LW3rd's Third Thread for 2012
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Possibly the earliest photo of me with a book. (I'm the one in the socks.)
I will keep my list of books read from October through the end of the year in this message, with links to the posts where I talked about each one.
DECEMBER I expect I'll be keeping the reading fairly light this month, with all the other demands on my time.
88. Shooting at Loons by Margaret Maron
87. Southern Discomfort by Margaret Maron
86. High Rising by Angela Thirkell
*85. The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier; audio narrated by the author
84. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; illustrated by Robert Ingpen
83. The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning
82. Henrietta Sees it Through by Joyce Dennys
81. Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri
80. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
79. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
DNF The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
78. The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum
77. Sixpence House by Paul Collins
76. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
OCTOBER I'll be doing some ghost/horror/creepy reading this month, along with other 75'ers, in keeping with the season.
75. Robert B. Parker's Lullaby by Ace Atkins
74. The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig
73. Haunted Scranton by A. C. Bernardi
72. Mocanaquah's Story As told by Kitty Dye
71. Shiloh by Shelby Foote (partly a library audio book)
70. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
69. The Other by Thomas Tryon
68. Faithful Place by Tana French
Here is what I read from January through September of 2012. I trust the links have made the transition from my previous thread. They should take you to my comments or reviews of each book.
67. Dinner with Lenny by Jonathan Cott
66. Round Mountain by Castle Freeman, Jr.
65. Absolution by Patrick Flanery
*64. The Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri
*63. The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri
*62. The Terra Cotta dog by Andrea Camilleri
61. The High Path by Ted Walker
*60. The Shape of Water by Andrea Camillieri
59. The Forgetting River by Doreen Carvajal
*58. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain; audio book performed by Elijah Wood
57. A Cordiall Water by M. F. K. Fisher
56. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
*55. By a Slow River by Philippe Claudel
54. The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
53. Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron
*52. Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves! by P. G. Wodehouse Audiobook
51. No Signposts in the Sea by Vita Sackville-West
50. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
49. Joining the United States Coast Guard by Snow Wildsmith
*48. Untied by Meredith Baxter Audioboook
*47. The Likeness by Tana French
46. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
45. Edenville Owls by Robert B. Parker
44.One Step Behind by Henning Mankell
*43. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
42. 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro
*41. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley
40. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
39. Worshipful Company of Fletchers by James Tate
*38. The Garner Files by James Garner and Jon Winokur
37. Red Bird poems by Mary Oliver
36. The United States Coast Guard and National Defense by Thomas P. Ostrom
35. Townie by Andre Dubus, III
34. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
*33. My Lucky Life in and out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke (Audio)
32. Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander An ER selection.
31. WYRD SISTERS by Terry Pratchett
APRIL READING AT WILL
30. Singer: An Album edited by Ilan Stavans
29 The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb
28.1 In the Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough
*28. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (audio)
27. Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
26. The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
25. Travels With Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn
MARCH MYSTERY MARCH
Most of my reads this month will be in the mystery/suspense/crime genres, or will have some connection thereto.
24. Fridays with Red by Bob Edwards. The only mystery about this one is why I bought it, and why I read it. Which is not a criticism of the book.
23. A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor
22. In the Woods by Tana French
21. Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Hegan Rice
20. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
19. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman Connection to Mystery March: I was inspired to read it now by visiting with Dr. Siri Paiboun.
18. Speaking in Tongues by Jeffery Deaver
17. Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
16. The Lucky Cat by the great mystery-writing team of Frances and Richard Lockridge.
FEBRUARY CABIN FEVER MONTH (Reading from the Public Library mostly)
15. The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
*14. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
*13. Dissolution by C. J. Sansom
12. Palladian by Elizabeth Taylor
*11. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward/
10. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
*9 The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason
*8 Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
*6. The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss
JANUARY Orange January
5. Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx Shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 1997
4.2 DNF Swamplandia! by Karen Russell A totally baffling Orange nominee
4. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson Should have been an Orange nominee, and Robinson did win one later on, so I'm counting it as an Honorary Orange read.
3. At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor
2. Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel Short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2006
1. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
I love this photo! Is your mother, or grandmother holding you?
It is so very precious!
I have a vivid memory of my great grandmother. She did not know how to read. I was in first grade and learning to read with the Dick and Jane books....the See Spot Run, The Wagon is Red
I was visiting my great grandmother and I remember walking up the wide planked wooden steps to her porch. Through the screen door I heard her reading my Dick and Jane book.
To this day, lo many years later, I can still recall that image. She taught me that it is never to late to learn.
What a wonderful, wonderful story! My mother tells me I tried to teach my grandmother's stepson (a grown man who barely spoke, and who I assume was mentally challenged) to read when I was quite young. Naturally, I did not have any success with that.
Hi Linda- Congrats on the new thread! I LOVE the photo at the top. Priceless. Once again, great review of Round Mountain and I hope you've sparked more interest with that terrific collection.
Oh, yes, excellent photo! *Love* those socks! What book were you two reading?
Linda, that is a precious photo of you and your grandmother. I can tell by that bookcase that you come from a reading family.
Lumme, Amber, I knew somebody would ask that question. I haven't the foggiest idea. I'm afraid it looks like The Handyman's Digest, or some such thing to me.
Wait, was is a book about Danish rodents? And if so, why would your grandmother make you read such a thing?! ;)
*Sporfle* No, I was referring to definition No. 1 under that link, and I'll bet you knew that. :>P
I did, but I couldn't resist! I do love that you included the link, though.
68. Faithful Place by Tana French French really knows how to draw you in to the story and get you engaged with the characters. This is the third in her Dublin Murder Squad series (although that designation is increasingly inapt), and it features Frank Mackey, who we met as the head of an undercover squad in The Likeness. He was an iffey sort of character in that novel (as you might expect of anyone involved in undercover police work), and now we learn some of the reasons why. Faithful Place is the street where Mackey grew up, in a family so dysfunctional it's a little hard to imagine how they all lived long enough to become adults. And although there are mysterious deaths to be puzzled out and solved, this is not about Mackey as policeman, but more about Mackey as flawed human being and the various complex relationships (first love, ex-wife, daughter, Mammy, Da, sibs, colleagues) in his life. A few thought-provoking moments, but mainly just a good story to get lost in. My favorite of the French novels so far.
It's a series in a very loose sense, Laura. I'd say each book can easily stand alone, and Faithful Place particularly needs nothing from the first two at all.
Hi Linda! Just saw your new thread. What a great picture of you and your grandmother.
Hi, Pat! Thanks for dropping by.
#11 Hey, Donna---how did I miss you? There have certainly always been books in my house, as long as I can remember. It never occurred to me as a child that there were houses without books, and I am still shocked to walk into one of those.
69. The Other by Thomas Tryon My first Spooky October read. Actually, it's a re-read. I discovered this back in the mid-70's, not too long after it was published, and it really kept me flipping the pages. Tryon beat Stephen King to the punch (Carrie wasn't published until two years after The Other), but nothing else he wrote had quite the same impact on me. In The Other, Tryon masterfully weaves the tale of a family beset by tragedy, from the perspective of 13-year-old twins, Niles and Holland. With their father dead, and their mother psychically wounded, their Russian Grandmother Ada teaches them "the game" by which through concentration they can feel what it's like to be a rooster, or a dragonfly, or a sunflower. And of course, it all goes terribly wrong, with consequences Ada never imagined, and cannot bring herself to acknowledge until it is much much too late. It held up very well after all this time, even though I remembered every twist and turn of the plot. I rated it 5 stars from memory when I entered the book in my catalog, and I haven't changed my mind.
70. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare A Newbery medal winning novel for young adults recently recommended to me by my mother (who I guess considers me still a "young" adult!). Can't believe neither of us had read it before. A grand, if somewhat predictable, tale of a spirited young girl who books passage to New England from Barbados, where she grew up, to find her only living relative after her beloved grandfather's death. The culture clash that ensues is well portrayed here, as Kit's free and generous nature comes in conflict with her strait-laced disapproving Uncle and the Puritan community in general. The terror of being accused of witchcraft in the 17th century is somewhat downplayed, and there's very little doubt that all will come right in the end, but it's an engaging read, with some subtleties.
ETD: ONE 'r' in Newbery. That's so hard to remember!
I own a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Your review prompts me to read it before Halloween.
Book arrived safe and sound today. Thank you! Taking it with me on a little getaway in a few days.
#23 I wondered if you had read it, Linda. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it. And now I don't feel so bad about not getting to it when I was the age it's intended for!
#24 Oh, good, Nancy. I think those stories will be fine reading on a getaway. I hope you enjoy them. Remember to give them a chance to coalesce...the first two or three are not the strongest.
Linda- It's nice to see the Other mentioned again. I remember reading and loving it back in the 70s. The movie version is pretty creepy too!
I was very pleased at how well it still reads, Mark. I thought maybe my long-ago impression was due to my youthful lack of sophistication! I seem to remember being disappointed in the movie, but I'm not sure why.
Oooh, I *loved* The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was a kid! Glad you liked it too.
71. Shiloh by Shelby Foote My, but this was good. It's an episodic novel about the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, April 1862, told from multiple perspectives, both Union and Confederate, and it's brilliant. I listened to a library audio book, but luckily I had the book on hand, because two of the five discs were damaged or defective, and I had to read the parts that wouldn't play. Every character in the book had a different narrator, and most of them were inspired. Particular kudos to Shelby himself, who did the beginning and ending sections as Lieutenant Palmer Metcalfe, Aide de Camp to General Johnston; and to whoever performed as Private Otto Flickner of the 1st Minnesota Battery (imagine a voice and delivery very much like Garrison Keillor's). Highly recommended.
72. Maconaquah's Story: The Saga of Frances Slocum "As told by" Kitty Dye
Frances Slocum was abducted from her family home near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, by three Delaware Indians on November 2, 1778. She was five years old, one of the youngest of 10 children of her Quaker parents. Her story is legend in the Wyoming Valley of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and in her eventual home in Indiana. Far from being mistreated, the child was adopted by one of her captors and his wife, who had lost their own daughter some time before. She "turned into an Indian", as the author puts it, and almost completely forgot her white family over time. Her original family did not forget her, however, and sporadically attempted to find her over the years. They eventually succeeded, when Frances, now known as Maconaquah, was an old woman. An affectionate relationship apparently developed between Maconaquah and her brother Joseph Slocum (a judge), and between her daughters and his. Not surprisingly, however, she refused their entreaties to leave her home and the graves of her husband and sons in Indiana to return to Pennsylvania with the Slocums. Joseph arranged to have her portrait painted by the artist George Winter, and persuaded her to sit for it, although her people were uneasy about having their likenesses, or even their words, recorded in any way.
This is a heck of a good story, but it isn't told well in this book. I recommend you skip it, and Google "Mocanaquah" or "Frances Slocum" instead; you'll find better versions of her story on multiple websites and blogs. There are so many things wrong with it, not the least of which is that the title is the ONLY place where an apostrophe is used appropriately. Awkward sentence structure rules the day, despite the author's acknowledgement of the aid of an editor who "cleaned and polished my sentences so expertly". I caught the appearance of two non-words: "penchance" and "irregardless". The author never seemed to be able to decide whether her Indians' speech should be translated into stiff and awkward English or Hollywood-savage talk. "The Chief of the Long Knives says the land belongs to the Indians, but still he allows his people to come. I cannot believe that white man, who speaks with such a forked tongue. No, little daughter, I will not help such a people. Instead, we join the white people whose chief is across the great water, to fight our common enemy." vs. "No talk. Kill." In fairness, all the dialog is wretched; the white people don't speak 19th century English either. The book has that tone often used in historical accounts intended for "young readers", and that other patronizing tone that comes of trying too hard to be politically correct in describing the customs and behavior of the Other. The illustrations are nice, and the hand-drawn maps are decent. My final gripe is this: along the Susquehanna River near where my husband grew up, and not far from the site of Frances' abduction, is a little town called Mocanaqua. Kitty Dye reels off a list of all the places in Indiana and Pennsylvania named for poor little Frances Slocum, but fails to mention the one named for the proud woman she became.
Linda- I read and loved Shiloh several years ago. I NEED to get to The Civil War, a narrative : Fort Sumter to Perryville. I've been sitting on this one a couple years now. Let's hope 2013 is the year.
That he did. I was disappointed that my library-issue audiobook had been a bit misused before it got to me----part of the last section Shelby narrated himself wouldn't play, and I had to resort to the physical book at home to fill in. I hated missing his performance.
73. Haunted Scranton by A. C. Bernardi Another local history FAIL. I have worked in Scranton for over 36 years, made a lot of friends among people who have lived here all their lives, patronized innumerable local businesses, and visited most of the purported haunted locations mentioned in this book (restaurants, office buildings, cultural venues, etc.) for conventional (not paranormal) reasons. If the examples cited in this book are the best the city has to offer, I can understand why, in all that time, I have never heard a single "ghost story" associated with this town. Not one of the tales of haunting recited by Bernardi seems to have any foundation in real events---none of the so-called ghosts are tied to specific violent deaths, none of them have names rooted in history or even in family lore. That does not stop Bernardi from speculating freely about who these spirits might be, or why they are hanging around. I am profoundly skeptical about all paranormal stuff anyway, but it can be fun to read about. Can be. Wasn't. The writing is so bad it makes me want to avoid anything published by The History Press forevermore, even though their mission really appeals to me. This particular effort would have earned a low "C" from my high school English teacher, for ruddy awful sentences, adverbial recklessness and peculiar use of adjectives. If it didn't mean forcing her to read the darn thing, I'd love to hear my daughter's assessment of it from a rhetorical perspective. AVOID.
I'm not sure why I didn't have your thread starred, but found it from the link you left with your Haunted Scranton comments on the Halloween thread.
Oh, and I absolutely loved Shiloh, too. I wish I'd done it on audio, especially to hear the chapters that Foote himself narrated. I did the first 2 volumes of The Civil War: A Narrative with a mix of paper book & audio, and while it had an excellent narrator, I kept wishing I could hear Foote's voice reading it. You're right -- nobody tells the Civil War like Shelby Foote.
Glad you found me, Terri. Welcome! I have Foote on cassette tape narrating "The Gettysburg Campaign" from his Civil War. I need to investigate whether any or all of it is available on CD.
Linda, I need to read Shiloh. It has sat patiently waiting on my TBR shelf since I went on my Civil War jag two years ago. I agree with you and Mark that Foote was excellent on the Ken Burns series. I've watched it twice now! Oh, and I hate when I get a defective CD from the library. It usually happens on a trip after we have invested several hours in a book. Frustrating.
Oh boo on Haunted Scranton . I love local stories but it seems that so many aren't true. Patty Wilson is from my hometown ( which is very small) and she is on all of the ghost adventure stories on TV and she wrote many books including Haunted Pennsylvania. Many of the stories deal with people from my FiL's family or people we know and all of them say that they never heard the stories.
I would have to disagree with laytonwoman3rd regarding Haunted Scranton by A. C. Bernardi.
I have read this book several times already and it is an excellent read. This book is part of a series that is called 'Haunted America' by the History Press. This series of books is heavy on local history, legends and lore. I have read a few of the books from this series, and was so excited to see that there was finally one about my home area since my family has lived in the Scranton area since my great great grandparents moved here over 90 years ago. This specific book has a great balance of historical information, legend and lore. I know that the historical information is correct because I am a local historian and lover of our local haunts. I have visited most of the locations described in the book and have heard many of these, or similar stories from the owners, workers, and/or other visitors. I would say that the history and local legend/lore contained in the book is accurate and has been well researched. Most deaths in our area before the 1920's were not well documented, so I commend the author on prying into the history of the locations and providing his ideas as to who the ghosts may have been in life. Naturally there is much speculation about spirits and the afterlife, but we still don't know everything there is to know about our world and beyond. Just because you can't see something or haven't heard about it does not mean that it is does not exist...
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In reference to the post by laytonwoman3rd about the Haunted Scranton Book, it appears that the reviewer is from the typical generation of ignorant know-it-alls, who are in my opinion becoming the bane of this area. I'm not sure what planet these people come from, but they seem to delude themselves into thinking that they are performing a great public service by blatantly bashing and personally attacking someone else's hard work and effort in order to receive some attention or self gratification.
The book is the first of its kind about the Scranton and is the author's first published work. Personally, I liked the book and think it is simply an enjoyable read packed with great information about the history of Scranton, its landmarks, and some of the speculated ghost lore associated with the city. Some of the folklore is well known and some of it is not, but that does not mean its not worth writing about. If you have worked in the Scranton area for 36 years and have not heard of the ghost named George at Andy Gavin's, then you have been living inside a bubble.
A few parting words of advice to laytonwoman3rd: Books are a indeed great thing, but you may want to take your nose out of them once and a while to experience something real. In addition, you should not comment so harshly on everything that you don't know about, understand, or believe in.
Morning, Linda! I don't really have anything to say; just wanted to add a positive, happy post to counterbalance the non-happy immediately above... :)
Likewise, and the second one in particular is by someone who apparently just joined LT to post that note and in my opinion is borderline flaggable for its personal attack. A phantom himself (or herself)!
Welcome to LibraryThing, Oggieone1 and paa1234! I see you just joined up yesterday and haven't had a chance to enter many books into your libraries, so I just wanted to extend a warm welcome and say that I hope you enjoy this respectful community of book lovers and critical thinkers as much as all the rest of us here in the 75 Books Challenge Group do. I think you'll find that, while sometimes people here allow their emotions to run away with them, for the most part we are a group committed to intellectual diversity and determined when we disagree to do so hardily, but cordially. Happy reading!
Hmmm. In the past when this has happened, there's a connection with the author. Don't know if that's the case, but I hope they take our tolerance of readers' opinions seriously in the future.
I just posted a less-than-favorable review of The Haunting of the Presidents. I wonder if someone will come haunt my thread with criticisms of my review and personality?
That will be interesting to see, Terri. Is that book from the same press?
I read your review, and you seem to have many of the same quibbles I had with Haunted Scranton. The straight historical bits were fine, and I even learned a few things, but the rest of it....wildly unsubstantiated. I hate to think our local historical society may have put its stamp of approval on it.
Just want to comment that the flagging of post #44 was most appropriate. If we can't make our arguments without resorting to such vituperation then silence would be preferred. Nicely handled anyway Linda and have a lovely weekend.
Need to catch up---have been without power (Monday night until Thursday night) due to Hurricane Sandy, and then away for the weekend to a place with no internet access. I finished an ER selection, The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig, and the first Spenser novel written by Ace Atkins, Robert B. Parker's Lullaby, which brings me to 75! I will have something to say about each of them in a while.
75. Lullaby by Ace Atkins. My trepidation over the first Spenser novel written by Robert B. Parker's successor kept me from buying this the moment it hit the bookstores. So I waited for my turn in the queue at the library, and then I let the book sit for several days before cracking the cover. I need not have worried...Spenser is in good hands. There are subtle differences, and over time these may become more pronounced as Atkins makes the character his own, but for now he certainly has captured the essence of the hero and I found myself reading with great pleasure as Spenser took on a very young client with a lot of determination and a sense of justice to equal his own. From a human perspective, this is probably the best story in the series since Early Autumn, which has literary merit above and beyond the genre genius Parker always demonstrated. Where Parker came to rely extensively on dialog to move his novels, Atkins puts more words on the page, without sacrificing the pace or style of the master. Although I liked it, a lot, it remains to be seen how long Atkins can keep the admittedly aging detective on the job. Parker's last completed Spenser novel, Sixkill, had our hero driving west toward his lady love after concluding a case to his satisfaction. As I said at the time, that would have been a fine place to leave him, and I hope Atkins uses good judgment going forward.
Congratulations on getting to 75, Linda. I'll be particularly interested in what you think of the Ivan Doig book. I've heard such great things about him but haven't read any of his books yet.
And I'm so glad you have power again. Four days is a long time to go without it.
#62 I liked the Doig, Pat. I liked his Whistling Season better, but Doig is a captivating story-teller, and this one was quite fine too.
Well, the one book I have of his is The Whistling Season so I'm thrilled to hear you liked it better.
76. Ghost Story by Peter Straub Meh. Despite coming highly recommended this book left me cold, and not in the bone-chilling terror-inducing sense the author probably intended. Everything about it struck me as overdone----too many characters with too many stories (some of which really had no bearing on the main tale); too much snow; too many deaths (again, some of which were just there without having significance to the narrative); too many borrowings from "classic" horror; too many twists and turns; too much consequence from too little cause; too many pages.
Morning Linda- Funny, how that works. Ghost Story has always been one of my favorite horror books, although I haven't read it in nearly 25 years. Sorry, it didn't work for you. I NEED to get back to Mr. Doig!
I know, Mark...my husband thought it was great too, and he read it much more recently. I just never could get in the story, if you know what I mean. And I need to get back to Mr. Doig and write that review!
Sorry you didn't like Ghost Story. I liked that one a lot.
Different strokes, and all that . . .
77. Sixpence House by Paul Collins This was a delightful memoir and reflection on bookish things. Paul Collins fills the reader in on life in the book village of Hay-on-Wye, where he and his wife very nearly settled one summer with their young son. If you've ever dreamed of retiring to start a book shop, better read this first. It's full of humor, little-known (to Americans) facts about the reality of life in Britain generally, in Hay-on-Wye particularly, and in the world of used book selling. Jolly pleasant reading.
78. The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum This was a dandy read---a combination of true crime stories of the early 20th century, and professional biography of two pioneers in the field of forensics. Well written, with just enough chemistry to make sense of things without losing those of us who don't know our H2CO3 from our C3PO.
DNF The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom Pearl-ruled. Pedestrian writing, stereotyped characters. Despite the innovative idea of a white Irish orphan in servitude on a plantation with black slaves, this one just wasn't working for me...no real originality or vibrancy in the story-telling. On to the next.
79. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome In which an otherwise sensible dog takes a trip up the Thames with three hapless humans, and somehow manages to come out of it unscathed. As do the humans, one of whom tells the tale. It's Wodehouse witty, and owes much to Twain as well. Hang on to your sculls, because you'll laugh 'til you squeak for breath one minute, and be moved to find a good biography of Queen Matilda or Edward the Confessor in the next.
I'm just embarking on Doig with English Creek; Three Men in a Boat well...I loves me some Wodehouse, let's say; the Grissom fiasco makes me sad, that idea has a lot of promise!
The Poisoner's Handbook isn't a how-to? Drat. *puts it in the return basket*
I quite enjoyed Sixpence House. I like Collins' authorial voice, it's not so even as to be bland, but it's also not manic, which seems to me to be the poles of memoir these days.
Look who's here!!! Now that you know the way, RD, don't be a stranger. Funny about The Poisoner's Handbook...in the author's note Blum says she noticed her husband sliding his coffee cup out of her reach when he was reading one of her first drafts!
HA! I can well believe it. The title would give me, as a spouse, pause...a lot of room for soul-searching, and not a small amount of anxiety.
#79 Thanks for the tip, Roni. I have heard that book mentioned, but I didn't know whether there really was a connection with Three Men.
#81 Hmmmm...I really thought you were one of the people from whom I had heard about it, Rebecca.
Nothing to add to the conversation, just de-lurking to say that I'm here and, well, lurking...
80. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer A collection of short fiction with a common theme. Most of the protagonists in these stories are young black women striving to escape from a stifling environment, by various means---education, traveling to an exotic location, or just plain running away. None of these stories can be said to have a happy ending, but the outcomes are neither predictable nor consistent. I was not as impressed with the writing as some other reviewers. It's very competent, but it didn't carry me away. There is a certain element of
dark humor here, especially in the portrayal of "church ladies", and in the selection I found the most moving, "The Ant of the Self". In this story, set in 1995, a promising high school debater uses his prize money to bail his no-good father out of his latest DUI lock-up, and then gets roped into driving him to Washington, D.C., for the Million Man March. His father's motive is not to hear the speakers, or to be a part of history, but to find buyers for two cages full of talking parrots and macaws he retrieved from an ex-girlfriend on the way. The first person narrator of 'The Ant of the Self' is Packer's most sympathetic character, and in some ways her most believable. The young man's conflicting feelings for his father are beautifully portrayed. A couple of these stories had a highly experimental feel to them, in particular "Geese", in which a young woman heads for Japan, more or less on a whim, possibly because of the loveliness she expects of its culture, and finds that starving is no fun, wherever you are. I didn't particularly enjoy reading Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, or feel that I gained much from it, but I have a nagging feeling that some of Packer's characters are going to stick with me. So, 3 1/2 stars, I guess.
Linda- Sorry you had to abandon The Kitchen House. I have a print copy and an audio copy, waiting nearby. I remember it receiving a lot of praise early on.
81. Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri Montalbano number 5. In this excursion, our Inspector parses out the connection between two seemingly unrelated mysteries---the death of a young man never at a loss for female companionship, and the disappearance of a reclusive elderly couple who lived in the same apartment building. The food is as enticing as ever, although Salvo has some trouble enjoying it as he begins to understand the utterly evil enterprise his investigation brings to light. There is a brilliant slap-stick skit embedded in this novel, as Montalbano attempts to break into a locked building by slamming into the door with his shoulder, and then shooting at the padlock, American cop-fashion. I couldn't help thinking of Dick Van Dyke, as Rob Petrie, trying to rescue his wife from a locked hotel bathroom.
Surely no one had her big toe stuck up a bathtub faucet though?
>87 laytonwoman3rd:, 88 Oh my yes, that was a hilarious episode! Normally I avoid TV Land like it's got cooties, but when they do the Dick Van Dyke show marathons, I will actually watch a few minutes here and there. Until the stupid ads make me crazy.
82. Henrietta Sees it Through by Joyce Dennys I really enjoyed Henrietta's War when I read it a while ago. This second installment of Henrietta Brown's affectionate letters to her "Childhood's Friend" during WWII was just as good. It's odd to find fictional letters from the British home front to a soldier stationed who-knows-where during WWII soothing, but that's just what this book is---balm for the soul. Henrietta; her calm and stable husband, Charles; their friends Lady B, the Admiral, the Conductor and Faith all epitomize the British spirit of "Keep calm and carry on" in the face of rationing, Fuel Target notices, gin shortages, anxiety over the safety of loved ones in service, air raids, mice, bindweed and the exasperating Mrs. Savernack. As did its predecessor, Henrietta Sees it Through makes the reader feel that it is possible to cope with nearly anything as long as one keeps the chin up and remembers to appreciate what simple pleasures remain available.
83. The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning The fifth, and most recent, Cliff Janeway adventure. Janeway, for those who haven't read this series, is a former cop, turned book dealer/detective. I've had this one on hand for a long time, but had been taking a break from Janeway, who I found fairly unlikeable in the last outing, although now I don't really recall why. (It has probably been 10 years since I last read Dunning.) I did enjoy this one, although it's more about the horse-racing world (a la Dick Francis) than the book world. A page turner, nothing special.
Oh, Tomm really likes Dick Francis. I wonder if he's like this series...?
This is the first one that has involved horses, Amber. But it really was very much like a Dick Francis outing. The earlier ones in the series have sort of faded from my memory, except for the lingering feeling that I enjoyed them at first, and then began to find the main character a bit of a Pain. But with the long break between, I again found the latest one quite enjoyable. I understand the author has suffered from a benign but troubling brain tumor, and whether he will write another book is questionable.
84. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by Robert Ingpen. Well, I'm very late in coming to this classic, which I believe I recall seeing around somewhere in my youth, possibly in my grandmother's bookcase alongside Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch and Uncle Remus. Unlike the latter two titles, however, I don't have any memory of reading or having The Wind in the Willows read to me. The edition I have now is simply beautiful, with heavy thick pages, and stunning illustrations. I've been taking it a chapter at a time at bedtime, just as it ought to be done, and savoring the often muddy adventures of Mole, Rat, Badger and the incorrigible Toad. (Really, what a terrible example for our Youth, that Toad of Toad Hall!) Highly recommended to those of you with children or a fondness for classic children's literature.
Oh, I love The Wind in the Willows, and I can't wait to read it with Charlie - I'm just waiting for him to get a tad older first...
85. The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier audio narrated by the author.
A man with Sidney Poitier's chops is entitled to take himself seriously. With the subtitle "A Spiritual Biography", the reader is advised to expect nothing less. For the most part, Mr. Poitier managed to balance his seriousness with enough self-deprecation and light-heartedness to keep this from being a "preachy" sort of book. Occasionally, though, in spite of his marvelous voice and diction (and those fleeting Island cadences!), I did find myself drifting away as one may do in church, losing the thread of his discourse on some too familiar sermon topics, such as the overindulgence of a generation of children which led to the sex-drugs-rocknroll culture, and so on. When talking about his experiences as a child growing up in the Bahamas, or as a young black man determined to make his way with honor in the world of theater and movie-making at a difficult time, Poitier is mesmerizing. Hearing him reminiscence about what it took to make films like "The Defiant Ones" and "A Patch of Blue" makes me very grateful for his moral presence in the world, as much as for his artistic contributions. His narration ranges from an easy conversational style to something more dramatic, almost Shakespearean at times. Recommended if you admire his work.
You're doing some amazing reading, Linda3rd, and some very persuasive reviewing. What a 2013 this portends!
86. High Rising by Angela Thirkell Fun, fun, fun. More comments when I have more time.
ETA: As usual when I don't put my impressions down immediately, I find it very difficult to say anything useful about a book I finished over a week ago. I loved it, that you probably surmised. I would say this is a comfort read---characters who are real and believable, some of whom you'd like very much to have to tea, and others you'd hope never to need to engage with at all. A bit of romantic intrigue, an annoyingly loveable little boy, a woman making her way on her own and not at all sorry about it. A story line that is undemanding, and yet rewards you for following along. A lovely visit to a time and place we don't inhabit (England between the wars), and yet find familiar. Satire with a heart. For another version of a similar reaction, check out my daughter's comments, as she recently read it on my recommendation.
So does Thirkell depict an early 20th-century version of Trollope's Barsetshire? Or what?
Yes, Laura, that's it precisely. I haven't read Trollope, so I don't know if she re-visited any of his plot lines or characters, but Barsetshire is her setting.
87. Southern Discomfort by Margaret Maron Another speedy and delightful read. Margaret Maron has created Deborah Knott, a former defense attorney turned District Judge in rural North Carolina. Knott is a real down-home character, comfortable where she was planted, and determined to see justice done even if the means are sometimes a bit unorthodox. Great characters, good story-telling and plot development, clues that do add up, but not too easily. This is the second in the series, and there are a lot more...I'll keep reading 'til she jumps the shark.
Glitterfy.com - Christmas Glitter Graphics
I want to wish you a glorious celebration of that time of year when we all try to unite around a desire for Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All. Merry Christmas, Linda!
Thank you so much, Roni. Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!
My wish for all of us.
Just dropping by (and delurking) with some Christmas cheer from me and the Moomins (another great LT find). I will be back to checkout your link!
I am not through with this thread, by any means, but just for housekeeping purposes, Here is a link to where I'll start posting after the turn of the year.
Looking forward to your thoughts on High Rising, which I've just received as a Secret Santa gift. I've read some Thirkell already, but not that one.
From the ones I've read already, it seems that she uses the geography created by Trollope in the fictional county of Barsetshire, and some of the family names are the same so you can imagine some of Thirkell's characters as the grandchildren or great grandchildren of Trollope's. There may be more connections that that, but I've not read enough to see them.
88. Shooting at Loons by Margaret Maron Not quite as engaging as the previous entry in the series, partly because the author spent too much time in exposition and not enough in story-telling. In this outing, Judge Deborah Knott is filling in for another Judge in a neighboring county, where commercial fisheries contend with individuals whose families have made their living from the coastal waters for generations, and with a newish influx of sport fishermen and environmentalists. Naturally, all these varied interests relying on the same resources are in uneasy, and eventually deadly, conflict with one another. Just as naturally, Deborah gets involved up to her neck. Her judicial duties are fairly irrelevant, except as a plot device to illuminate some of the local issues and introduce a few characters. The story is a good one, but the foundation-laying got a bit clunky.
>112 laytonwoman3rd:: well, even if you found it difficult to write a review, the fact that you and Laura both enjoyed it was enough for me to pick up my first Thirkell yesterday. I received Pomfret Towers in the Virago Secret Santa and even though it's not the first in the series I've been told that doesn't matter too much. So it will be either my last book of 2012 or, more likely, my first for 2013.
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