Bohemima's Book Binge Bundle Three
This is a continuation of the topic Bohemima's Book Binge Bundle Two.
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106. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America Barbara Ehrenreich nonfiction (new)
105. The Purple Swamp Hen Penelope Lively
Short Stories (borrowed)
104. The Quiet American Graham Greene
103. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde R. L. Stevenson
Novel (new) re-read
102. End in Tears Ruth Rendell
Mystery (shelf) re-read
101. Dead Cold aka A Fatal Grace Louise Penny
Mystery (shelf) re-read
100. Oedipus Rex Sophocles
99. The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson
Fiction (e shelf)
98. NOS4A2 Joe Hill
97. Still Life Louise Penny
Mystery (shelf) Re-read
96. The Cement Garden Ian McEwan
Novel (e shelf)
95. The Siege of Krishnapur J. G. Farrell
Novel (e shelf)
94. The Crocodile Bird Ruth Rendell
Novel (e shelf)
93. Blue Angel Francine Prose
92. All Roads Lead to Austen Amy Smith
Nonfiction (e shelf)
91. The Novice's Tale Margaret Frazer
Mystery (e shelf)
90. Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood
89. Gaudy Night Dorothy Sayers
Mystery (e shelf) Re-read
88. Corpses in Enderby George Bellairs
87. The 31st of February Julian Symons
86. Engaged to Die Carolyn Hart
85. Decline and Fall Evelyn Waugh
84. Case Histories Kate Atkinson
Mystery (e shelf) Re-read
83. Crossing to Safety Wallace Stegner
82. Stella Bain Anita Shreve
81. The Red House Mystery A. A. Milne
Mystery (e shelf)
80. Secrets of the Sea House Elisabeth Gifford
79. Color of Magic Terry Pratchett
78. Looking for Alaska John Green
77. Let's All Kill Constance Ray Bradbury
Novel (e shelf)
76. Psycho Robert Bloch
75. Claudius the God Robert Graves
74. A Most Contagious Game Catherine Aird
73. The English Patient Michael Ondaatje
Statistics, Part 1
TOTAL READ 9
TOTAL READ 7
TOTAL READ 7
TOTAL READ 23
Police at the Funeral started well. In fact, right up to the end, I was happily reading the first Campion book that I really liked. The plot is fine, some interesting characters, it's my favorite type of mystery--the country house. All good, right?
Yep. Until the very end. It wasn't the plot resolution, which fit neatly with the plot. In the aftermath, Campion is chatting with a main character, who makes a really egregious racist remark. Now, if Campion had expressed disgust, disbelief, or surprise (even just mentally), I would have been fine with it. Unfortunately that didn't happen. I was left with a very bad taste. Even given the times, this was too much.
Hi Gail, happy new thread my dear, it looks like you will reach 100 books read for the year dear friend, sending love and hugs.
Happy new one, dear lady.
It has been wonderful to see you back and active in the group this year.
I know that a lot of people weren't crazy about Moon Tiger, mostly because of the fairly odious main character.
I certainly agree that Claudia isn't...likable or admirable. She's completely set-centered, except for a brief wartime love affair.
However, I liked and admired this book very much. The shifting points of view were deftly handled and written in individual voices. The surprise when the reader sees another perspective is a great experience.
Taken as a whole, the book is amazing. So, yes, a very rewarding read.
But I truly dislike, almost despise Claudia. I think that's what Lively intended when she wrote the book.
YMMV, of course. Every reader reads a different book.
Dead Men Don't Ski is a pretty good mystery, set at a ski resort in...Austria(?). The plot is very complicated, even though there's a finite number of suspects. The setting is refreshing, I like the detective, and Moyes's writing style is fine. Overall, a winner.
The Deadly Joker, on the other had, is a book I barely remember. A married couple moves to a quiet town to help the wife recover from a nervous breakdown. A series of " practical jokes" (oh, how I hate them) doesn't help the recovery process. Overall, tedious.
Regeneration by Pat Barker is a novel which closely follows the true story of Siegfried Sassoon's problems during WW1.
A man of demonstrated courage, Sassoon realizes in1917 that the war isn't the great and glorious cause that he and so many thought it was. He writes a public manifesto, and the powers that be have a generalized giddy fit; Robert Graves, Sassoon's good friend, recommends a course of action to save everyone's face. So, Sassoon is determined to be suffering from shell shock and is sent for a course of treatment. What happens in the hospital forms the heart of the book
Regeneration is a harrowing read. The plight of men with shell shock is appalling. They're treated so that they can be thrown back in the lines. Some of the "treatment" is amazing in its cruelty. Indeed, it would be regarded as a war crime if it occurred in an enemy hospital.
This is one of the most difficult books I've read in a long time. I think everyone over the age of 21 should read it.
Happy new thread, Gail.
>5 bohemima: Sad when a book lets you down at the end.
I see it was written in the 1930, so it would not have felt the same back then as it does now...
Happy new thread! Looks like you've been reading some great books. I recently discovered George Bellairs and his Inspector Littlejohn series. I don't know if we've discussed it before, but I snagged a couple of ARCs on NetGalley and Amazon has had a sale on others. There are 57 books in the series! Death of a Busybody was not bad - I don't think its one of his best, but I enjoyed it because it was just so representative of the Golden Age that I couldn't help myself!
Happy new thread, Gail! Glad to see you've already had string of interesting reads.
Happy new one, Gail.
>12 bohemima: Unfortunately, my library hasn't got a cooy of the Moyes mystery. It's set in Italy.
You really are ripping through the books, ma'am! Too bad about Police at the Funeral. I have several Allinghams on the shelf. I think I have read one, long long ago, but it didn't make much of an impression.
>10 PaulCranswick: Paul! Wonderful to see you here! It's been fun this year here at LT. Well, fun for me, anyway.
>14 FAMeulstee: I know, Anita: product of one's time. This was a bit strong even for the 30's. I was telling my daughter about it, and there was a second or two before she sussed out the meaning. I was really pleased that she had never heard that particular insult. And she's 50--yes, yes; I was a mere babe when she was born.
It didn't help that this was the first Allingham that I enjoyed.
>15 rretzler: Oh my word, Robin! Was it you who mentioned Bellairs on your thread? I'm reading Corpses in Enderby. If this doesn't fall totally apart in the second half, I've found a new favorite. And so many books to look forward to! Very exciting, because I'm picky about what I add to my "favorite detectives" shelf.
>16 MickyFine: Micky, this has been one of my best reading years in a long time. I could really jack the numbers if I stuck to my mystery shelves, but I've had some excellent literary fiction thrown into the mix, too.
I'm feeling smug, I think. O.o
>17 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I was impressed with Lively's ability to make me read about, and be interested in, such an unlikable character. I think that's an indication of the quality of her work. I hope to get to Oleander, Jacaranda this year.
Regeneration was my first book by Pat Barker, but it surely won't be my last.
>18 Ameise1: Barbara, I'm sorry about the Moyes. And yes, of course, it's set in the Italian alps. It's quite a dramatic page turner at the end.
I'm pleased to be on my third thread this year. Last year I think I had only one, and a pretty poor one at that.
>19 laytonwoman3rd: Linda, I do seem to be loping right along. I'm trying to watch tv less--not a lot that I want to watch, if I'm honest.
I've had two recent disappointments: the Campion and the Father Brown. I remembered last night that I didn't like The Man Who Was Thursday, either. I though that was because I'm not fond of the spy story in that form--there are a very few spy stories that I like.
But maybe I just don't like Chesterton's work. I have some of his nonfiction to check into. You'd think that I would love him, considering some of my other favorites.
You have to really be able to buy into Chesterton's own beliefs and mindset for the stories to have their full impact, I think. I found them a bit of a struggle too, though I appreciate their mystery* aspects.
(*That is, the mystery of crime, not the mystery of religion!)
I answered your Campion remarks on my thread, if you saw that? - certainly not disagreeing but offering a perspective.
You know, Liz, I thought I'd be comfortable with Chesterton because, having been raised as a fairly strict and well-educated-in-the-faith Catholic, I'm very familiar and comfortable with that belief system. I don't know if it's his manner, or style, or what. I did really like that first story, with all the funny events and clues; Father Brown was quite sly--in a perfectly nice way--and I wish that he had continued on in that way. Maybe in the later volume?
Yep, I was just at your thread. You're certainly right about it being a key to the mystery. It just hit me like a splash of cold water. Still, the book had a good plot and some interesting characters, so it gave me a ray of hope that Campion might yet win me over.
My memory is they get more so, rather than less, but it's a very individual thing.
I guess I felt the difference in Police At The Funeral is that it's a nasty person being nasty, rather than a "nice" person not realising they're doing something wrong., Anyway, that aspect of things doesn't much come up in that series, so you're probably safe going on. :)
I should have visited you sooner, since we both share a love of mysteries. I'm glad to see that you're having a banner reading year.
I only read one Allingham and actively disliked it since I thought it was a Sayers-wanna-be with Campion's character trying to be like Lord Peter but failing, IMO. It was the first in the series, The Crime at Black Dudley. I decided then to not continue with the series.
Overall I try to cut people slack for the times in which they lived when they spout what to us are racial, misogynistic, ethnic, or other prejudices. I note them, dislike them, but if the writing of a book is otherwise good, I don't boycott the author. Sayers is an example, for sure, of someone who had racial and ethnic/religious prejudices, but she tackled head on the prejudice against women professionals, women scholars, and the role of a woman in marriage. I admire her for that.
I tried to read Regeneration for book club one year, couldn't bear to continue.
Albert Campion wasn't intended to be more than a one-off joke on Allingham's part, but her publishers jumped all over the character and pressured her into making a series character out of him. The first few books are therefore fairly "wrenching" as she tried to turn a comic supporting character into a serious lead. They settle down around the fifth book, Sweet Danger.
Wishing you a lovely weekend, Gail.
Penelope Lively is someone whose books I always look for. i was a student briefly under her late husband Jack Lively many years ago - a lovely man.
>29 lyzard: I'll persevere with Father B. For at least one more book. I'm not crazy about preachy people, and in Innocence he was beyond preachy. Also very dismissive, to the point of contempt and actual hate, of Eastern religions. I understand the context of the times; I know the position of the Church in that era; I think I wanted, and expected, a kinder, gentler Father B. That said, I do like his understanding of sin and the motivations towards it.
Campion gets one more chance.
>30 karenmarie: Hi, Karen! Good to see you in this neck of the woods!
Campion's getting one more chance--I certainly agree about the Wimsey knock-off. Liz makes an interesting point about him starting as a one-off for Allingham. That does make a difference in my opinion. However, I've just discovered a new (to me) mystery author with plenty of books who is much more entertaining. More on that below.
Regeneration is a paunful read, but worthwhile. Anyone who thinks of war in terms of glory and flag waving should read it to see what the effects are on those who fight.
>32 tymfos: Terri, thanks! I'm thrilled, in an academic way, to be on my third thread this year. Last year was such a bust for me here at LT. I hope I can keep on going.
>34 PaulCranswick: Paul, hello! I see that your Books of My Life list is inspiring others. It's certainly inspired me to look into it. Just a glance at my year of birth was fascinating, in terms of books.
This was my first Lively. I have Oleander, Jacaranda somewhere on my shelves and hope to get to it next year.
E. X. Ferrars' Woman Slaughter is an odd little mystery. A woman is run over and killed by a car. Who, why, and who was the driver form the mystery here. The odd part comes in the two main characters: a woman who lives where the accident happened and her divorced but exceedingly friendly husband.
I didn't like this one very much. I might try one more by this author.
The Blind Contessa's New Machine is a sweet, sad, moving love story. A true story about the first typewriter is turned into an adult fairy tale.
The Contessa, who is going blind, is persuaded to marry Pietro. He isn't a good husband, but her loneliness is somewhat relieved by the companionship of her life-long friend, Turri.
As with most adult fairy tales, this doesn't end well, but there's an inevitability to it that seems just right.
This short tale was given to me several years ago by Richard. I loved it.
Dwarf by Tiffanie DiDonato is a memoir of her life. Born as dwarf, Tiffanie early determines to have multiple surgeries to increase her height and to decrease her disability.
Well, to decrease her inability to do things for herself. As a reasonably tall woman, I'd given little thought, beyond not being able to reach high shelves, to the difficulties of life as a dwarf. Short arms and legs make things like dressing and hair care nearly impossible. DiDonato makes these problems clear without excessive self-pity.
The horrors of her surgeries, and the recovery periods, make for painful reading.
I'm glad I read this, for the different perspective on daily life. I'm not sure I'd recommend it, though.
Hi Gail, hope you had a good weekend dear friend and send love and hugs.
I'm not sure Gladys Mitchell is the right author for me. The plots are all over the place, and I find the use of period slang tedious. That said, Laurels Are Poison seemed decent enough when I read it. It takes place in a teacher's training school in England. Mitchel's insight into teaching, education in general, and parental pressure are all positive parts of the story. But again the plot was overburdened with stray threads and characters that seem like too much of a good thing. I like Mrs. Bradley, the psychiatrist/amateur detective an awful lot, though. I've got one in paperback; maybe that will work better than the kindle versions.
Call the Midwife, a slightly fictionalized account of a group of midwives in the fifties, is a fascinating picture of life in London's East End. Author Worth, despite a somewhat superior air, has genuine sympathy and compassion for women living in hard poverty who are doing the best they can. There's plenty of information about the state of medicine in that era, too.
The story makes clear that the personal, devoted care given by the midwives was a real blessing to the mothers. This is a book that will make you think about both the miraculous technical advances in health care and the decided loss of human interaction.
I finally persuaded myself to read The Sparrow. Oh my.
Science fiction isn't my go-to genre, but I've read a bit of it, including books about space travel. But I've never read anything like this.
A planet is found to have sentient life. Among others, the Jesuits want to explore the planet, in part to see how this discovery fits into their cosmology. An assorted group of people, including priests, embark on the mission and land successfully. And then...
This is a story of miscommunication, goodwill failing to overcome the enormous handicap of dealing with different and unknown species, and failed good intentions.
I couldn't put it down; I had to read more slowly than I usually do in order to absorb the impact of the book, but I was propelled by the narrative. This is a harrowing, difficult book, but very much worth the effort it takes.
The only other book I've read that is remotely similar is A Canticle for Liebowitz. That's a very good book indeed, but this one is much better.
In Unexpected Night Henry Gamadge explores the suspicious death of a young man due to inherit a considerable sum of money. Henry is an expert on old books, antique inks, ancient papers, and handwriting. (What a great occupation!) His usual job (although Henry seems to have quite a bit of money) is ascertaining the authenticity of books and manuscripts.
In this story, the disposition of the large inheritance depends on the precise time the young man died, since the events occur on the eve of his 21st birthday.
The book is fun in a mild way. I wouldn't pick a Gamadge as my first choice of a mystery, but I certainly wouldn't turn my nose up at one, either.
>48 bohemima: Better than A Canticle for Liebowitz?! I'll have to look into it.
>48 bohemima: I haven't read either (but have them in the house) and am duly intrigued!
Have a wonderful weekend, dear Gail. xx
>48 bohemima: The Sparrow is harrowing. We read it for book club in 2007. I have a suspicion that I would appreciate it even more now but am not sure I could deal with it again. I've never read the sequel, Children of God. Touchstones aren't working.
>50 majleavy: Yep, it's better than Canticle for Liebowitz. But beware: it's a difficult, disturbing read.
>51 PaulCranswick: Paul, I'm not the biggest fan of sci fi, but those two books would amply repay your reading.
>52 Ameise1: Barbara, I'm not doing as well as I had hoped here at LT, but you're right: this is a great year of reading for me.
>53 karenmarie: Karen, I've been reliably informed that Children of God will make one feel better about the first book. We'll see.
Nothing quite like reviewing the same book twice in one thread. This is what comes of reading too many books: it has turned my head.
The Silver Pigs, is above average, at least for me. Set in Ancient Rome during the reign of Tiberius, this is a well-researched and intriguing murder mystery. Life around the Imperial Court was always dangerous, which adds considerably to the suspense of the mystery itself.
There are a lot of twists and turns to the mystery, and some nice insights into life under the Emperors. I know from nonfiction reading and several classes over the years that the book provides a true picture of the times. The Romans were nothing if not practical.
This was a first effort for author Davis, and I'll be looking for the second.
Among Other Things I've Taken up Smoking is a combination girl-coming-of-age story and a riff on The Tempest.
Miranda grows up on an isolated island off the Maine coast. Her mother is dead, her father is distant, and she learns much about life from Mr. Blackwell, a family friend.
When Miranda leaves the island to take a summer job before college, she stays with long-ago friends of her father. Things become somewhat clearer for her.
The plot had an odd ending; it just sort of stopped. All in all, a pretty good book that would better suit a younger reader than myself.
The Pleasure of Reading is a bibliophile's dream. It's a collection of brief essays by favorite authors, with the unifying theme of. "What books hooked you on reading?" plus a requested list of ten favorite books.
Many reading addicts are vitally interested in this kind of information, especially about some of their favorite authors. The essays are a bit uneven, but the lists, and the different approaches to the idea, make for some fascinating browsing.
Snobbery: the American Version is an odd little book. Epstein, no stranger to the world of snobs himself, presents a well-rounded and sometimes funny view of the foibles of those who want to look down on others, for whatever reason. Enjoyable but thin.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Why? Really, why?
It's funny that I read this along with and immediately following Epstein's book on snobbery, because...
This is one of the most pretentious pieces of claptrap I've read in a long, long time, told with an insufferable air of superiority.
Listen, I've read and struggled with and re-read quite a few books about the world view that Mr. Pirsig is trying to get across. The most common traits of the authors of those books have been humility and friendliness. Apparently Mr. Pirsig is so far above us all that it's a real chore for him to have to associate with, and (heaven forbid) actually try to instruct, those who are on a more mundane plane of life.
My apologies if this is a favorite for you. It wasn't for me.
>60 bohemima: Yep, it didn't resonate with me either, Gail.
Have a wonderful weekend.
>60 bohemima: hahaha, love when someone really lets rip about a disappointment. I have a copy somewhere, but haven't read it... I think it could stay among the dust bunnies now ha. Thank you
>61 PaulCranswick: Paul, what a mess. I'd had it for years and put off reading it. Now I know why.
I had an off week-end, not feeling well and sleeping away most of Sunday. But I'm sure I'll be better tomorrow.
>62 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I've been really fortunate to have read some outstanding books this year. The Sparrow is, of course, one of them. Parts of it were quite hard for me to read, but it's truly a book of quality.
>64 Caroline_McElwee: Ah! I see I made myself clear about that dreadful book. I hate being talked down to. To make sure I wasn't being too harsh, I looked into the author a bit further, and found that he's one of those who believe that if you don't get the point of his books, it's because you're too stupid.
But, Mr. Pirsig, perhaps it's the fact that you can't present your ideas coherently.
>63 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I'll cut authors lots of slack for many different reasons. But don't fail to explain something and then act superior because no one understood you.
My, that one did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I could easily recommend a dozen or so who cover the same ground much better.
If Sweet Danger by Allingham didn't have one other thing to recommend it, the introduction of Campion's love interest, Amanda, would make it a story worth reading.
Not so much a murder mystery as a sort of crime caper, this engaging entry in the Camion series may have won me over.
I know, I'm as surprised as you are.
Assassination Vacation is another "popular history" book by the delightful Sarah Vowell. I enjoy her books a lot, although some find her work lightweight.
Vowel decides she wants to visit the graves of every United States president who has been assassinated. An odd idea for a vacation, surely, but one that makes complete sense to me. We follow her along on her journey, learning more than we would have dreamed possible as she explores the deaths of the presidents and the lives of the assassins.
Full of gossipy detail and some wit, this book is a lot more fun than the title would indicate.
That finishes reviews for July, thank goodness! I'm gradually gaining on them, and may finish the year with all reviews done.
>60 bohemima: I loved Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I read it but have a sneaking suspicion that I'd not appreciate it nearly as much now. It may be telling that the only thing I really remember about the book is that when it came out in paperback I was dazzled by the multiple cover choices - different background colors.
>69 bohemima: I liked Assassination Vacation but was put off a bit by her injecting personal bits and humor, not realizing that that was her signature style. I've read other books by her since then and appreciated them more.
>71 karenmarie: Hello, Karen! Pirsig irritated me immensely by his very evident feeling of superiority. I might not have been as conscious of that in my (somewhat checkered) youth.
I enjoy Sarah Vowell's books because of her combination of respect disrespect for people from the past. It's her slightly cock-eyed look at things tha brinhs a smile to my face every time.
>72 richardderus: My dear man, I know! Because of my habit of visiting the threads of others before my own, it took me a few minutes to locate your sweet self.
The heartiest wish of Welcome Back! to you, Darling.
I reviewed The English Patient on the last thread at #203. I'll just say here that it may have dragged a tiny bit here and there, I still found it fascinating. I'm going to have to look for more of his books.
I've seen the Books of My Life lists floating around, started by Paul, I think. I haven't quite had the energy to work on mine in a substantive way yet, but it's percolating...
So. I thought I'd dig into some horror/suspense/ghostly stories because...October. I started with Nos4A2, by Joe Hill. He has a great idea here, some interesting characters, and plenty of scary/icky moments. Just the sort of thing I usually go for in a big way when I'm in the mood.
You knew there was a "but" in there, didn't you? This is my first Hill book, which may have been a mistake. It's clearly a riff on his father's work (he could go far and do worse, so not totally a bad thing), and hence is about a hundred pages too long. I stalled at about tha half-way point, feeling the need for a break. I'll get back to it today, as I have to finish it by Monday night.
Sigh. Still, I'll try another one or two of his books.
Wow...I'm glad I visited your thread this morning, Gail. Let's see, you've put paid to any thought I might have had about picking up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; I'm glad to see you're warming to Allingham, since I have several of her books on the shelf; and you've made me wonder if I should give Sarah Vowell another chance--I tried one of her collections of essays, but it was too much politics for me at the time. Oh, and as for Joe Hill, I read his first novel, Heart-Shaped Box and thought he needed to take a few more lessons from Dad. I haven't been inclined to try him again, but if you come across one you like, I'll think about it.
Oh, oh, oh....and Richard has a thread? Must go find same.
>78 laytonwoman3rd: Linda, I was (almost) glad to take a hit for the team with Pirsig. I find people with his attitude insufferable.
Yes, Campion may yet become a "book friend." And I'll be delighted if that turns out to be the case.
As for Vowell, you might try her book on the Pilgrims; it's informative and very funny. It's a good place to start.
Hill is going to work for me, I think. It's just that darned length! And it's not that I don't like long books; I really love them. But for me, suspense should move at a very fast clip. Come to think of it, I finished about 250 pages of this one in a big hurry, but then thought, "Wait. How much more of this *is* there?" But as I mentioned to Richard, taking a break proved to be just the thing. I'm now motivated to finish.
Gail, I've read several of Joe Hill's books. Heart Shaped Box isn't so very long -- I picked it up (or, rather, it grabbed me?) in the county library while my son was having tutoring, and I had it finished by evening. Maybe just a case of right book, right time, but I enjoyed it.
>47 bohemima: I haven't read Worth's work but I love the PBS series "Call the Midwife." It makes me cry every episode but the characters are so wonderful.
Good job moving through those reviews. I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance back in college and I remember loving it although I don't remember much other than the feeling it created.
Have a great week!
>81 richardderus: Yep. Just about sums it up perfectly.
Hope your Sunday was a great one, Gail.
If nothing else, Joe Hill is fantastic because I read Heart-Shaped Box, went to his website, discovered that he was Stephen King's son, and saw that he was on something called LibraryThing. I came over here to check it out, fell in love with it, and joined with a lifetime membership that very same day.
I did like Heart-Shaped Box, didn't like the short stories, thought Horns was good, Fireman derivative and too long, and haven't read NOS4A2 yet.
>85 karenmarie: Wow----I like Joe Hill a lot better now that I know he's responsible for you being here!
I hope NOS4A2 worked for you. Perhaps because it seemed novel at the time, I loved Heart-Shaped Box. I was charmed with the idea of purchasing a ghost on the Internet.
>87 laytonwoman3rd: I've seen you 'around', Linda, and happily amazed at how close we are in lots of basics. We retired within a month of each other, we're both affiliated with libraries in a volunteer capacity, and ... books... and the three quotes on your profile page are deeply meaningful to me. I just found your 75 Books challenge thread and have starred it!
>88 karenmarie: Yay! I know you mostly through RD's threads, I think. I've dropped a star on you too.
Hi Gail, hope you are having a really good weekend my dear and wishing you a great week ahead dear friend. Sending love and hugs to you from both of us.
>82 tymfos: Terri, I wound up liking the book for a variety of reasons, but still think it was too long. I’ll definitely try a couple more by Hill.
>85 karenmarie: Karen, see above. I think Hill shows promise, if he reins himself in just a bit.
>87 laytonwoman3rd: >88 karenmarie: and >89 laytonwoman3rd: Karen and Linda, I love it when my friends get together! That’s one of many great things about LT.
>86 Donna828: Donna, to be fair, this has been a fantastic reading year for me. Many books off my shelves, and lots of winners. And I still have a couple of months left!
>83 EBT1002: Hi, Ellen! I was quite charmed by the Midwives book. I’m still working on getting some reviews cranked out, but mostly they’ll have to wait till I get back home. It’s great to see you here.
>90 johnsimpson: Thanks, John! I’ve been out of town for two weeks, so having a wonderful time, but out of the LT loop a bit.
A Most Contagious Game is an odd little mystery. Thomas Harding, a wealthy businessman, has been forced into retirement by a sudden heart attack. He and his wife move to an old estate in a country village. Extensive renovations to the house soon reveal an old murder, and Harding becomes a bit obsessed—he’s bored out of his mind—with discovering the victim’s identity and the method of his murder.
Meanwhile a modern disappearance is occupying the police. It takes a distant backseat to the old murder in Harding’s mind, and in the book itself.
I liked this story, but it was a bit unsatisfactory. The modern mystery sort of peters out. The ancient murder is okay but not riveting. So, just 3 stars for this one.
Unfortunately, Claudius the God, while a good book, isn’t anywhere near as good as I, Claudius. I think a lot of that is because Claudius has now become Emperor. Now he can be as boring as he likes, and just relate his accomplishments, one after another. Without his nemesis Livia, he becomes rather a bore.
Still, lots of Roman history is served up in a fairly interesting fashion. It’s worth reading.
>96 bohemima: You are right of course, Gail - the follow up isn't on a par with the original. It is still bloody good though!
I’ve been off on vacation for a couple of weeks, so both reading and posting have fallen off. Back home now, reading is proceeding apace, and I’ll do some catching up here on my thread.
Psycho by Robert Bloch, is a serviceable murder mystery/psychological thriller. Unfortunately, it’s been totally eclipsed by Hitchcock’s brilliantly scary and weird adaptation. This is a case where the movie is so much better than the book that the book has virtually disappeared.
I’m on a tiny, sporadic quest to read some source novels for movies I’ve liked or loved for years. Typically I’m in the “But the Book Is So Much Better!” camp. I’m gradually learning that it’s not always true, and that a mundane or even crappy book can be made into an astonishing movie.
Let’s All Kill Constance by Bradbury is one of the weirdest books I’ve read in a lifetime of collecting oddball stories. By no means a typical, or very good, example of Bradbury’s work, it still possesses enough mystery and madness to draw this reader in.
Constance Rattigan, an aged actress, has been driven over the edge by the recent deaths of people she knows. She begins to feel that death, or someone, is actively pursuing her and is killing off these friends as a sick kind of warning.
Constance shows up on the narrator’s doorstep on a dark and stormy night to request his help in finding out and fending off her pursuer. The investigation, eventually involving a detective, leads to several of Constance’s old friends, each of whom sheds a little light on what’s going on.
It sounds dark, I know, but the book is actually quite funny. It does require some work on the reader’s part to sort things and characters out.
I’d recommend it to those who like the weird.
Looking for Alaska by John Green is a sweet, nostalgic book. Clearly aimed at the (amazingly large) YA market, it made a pleasant read for this old woman.
It’s a coming-of-age story and the plot is trite, but somehow Green manages to make me keep on reading. I loved the main character of Pudge, so uncertain and awkward that I wanted to reach in and tell him that things won’t always be this way. Unless you’re solidly not interested in this type of thing, do give it a try.
Welcome home, Gail! I love hunting down the original novels of the old movies that I grew up watching with my Dad. And Hitchcock is a prime example of a director that could take an idea and run with it, coming up with something even better than the original story. Strangers on Train was better than the novel, I thought, although the novel was creepier.
I do like weird, so I might have to find a copy of Let's All Kill Constance - it says on the book's page that it is third in a series. I am wondering third in a series of mysteries that Bradbury wrote or third in a series featuring the same lead character?
>102 drneutron: Agreed. I'm in the "Book is Usually Better" camp. To Have and Have Not is another where the movie is definitely better than the book. And The Big Sleep, even though I really love the book, you just can't top Bogie and Bacall.
Wow. I’m exhausted from adding books...somehow I added this year’s kindle purchases but forgot (too) many
physical book purchases.
And now I feel bad about So. Much. Buying. So I’m off to read for a while and will be back later to finish the John Green review and add a few more—reviews, not books!
Hi Gail, congrats on reaching One Hundred books read for the year my dear, hope you are having a good weekend dear friend. Sending love and hugs.
>102 drneutron: Jim, and >104 MickyFine: Micky, I was rather unthinkingly in the “Book Is Better” camp until quite recently. Steve Donoghue, a reviewer of wide scope, recently pointed out a number of movies that are far better than their books.
I was only considering excellent books that have been made into mediocre movies. I completely ignored the rather poor books that have been made into wonderful movies...
Thank goodness age hasn’t yet cast my mind and opinions into cement that can’t be altered except with a sledgehammer.
>103 Crazymamie: Hey, Mamie! It’s good to be home, although I had a wonderful time while I was away.
I’m finding the movie-to-book connection search gratifying and surprising. Certainly Princess Bride and To Have and Have Not totally eclipse the original stories. And there are some, like Maltese Falcon and Wizard of Oz that transform already good books into something incredibly wonderful.
Well. I see my movie obsession showing, so I’ll just move along...
Let’s All Kill Constance stands on its own. I think it’s the third with the same general setting and oddball quality, but I’m not sure about the characters. Some time ago there was a kindle special on Bradbury, so I bought several titles and stored them up. This is the second of that set of purchases that I’ve read.
How on earth did Terry Pratchett manage to think up the wonderful silliness (and yet sharp satire) of the Discworld series?
The Color of Magic is the first of that long-running set of stories. Of course it isn’t as polished and firm as some of the later books, but it’s quite funny if one just relaxes and goes along for the ride.
We meet Rincewind, the failed wizard student, Twoflower and his incredible Luggage as they wander around avoiding various plots to kill them.
Honestly, I loved it. These books will brighten your day.
>106 johnsimpson: Thank you, John. I’m pleased to have read so much this year. I have to slow down a bit now, as I have a couple of door stoppers I want to read.
Love and hugs back to you, John.
Wow. 103. Congratulations. I have End in Tears on my shelves, unread. I see that you gave it 2.5 stars. Is it just meh? Or unreadable?
>111 karenmarie: Hi, Karen. That’s an old rating from 9 years ago. I’m upgrading it to a pretty solid 3.5 Far from being unreadable, it’s a pretty good story. I like the way Rendell brings (brought) out social issues in the Wexford series. There’s a couple of nice red herrings, too.
>107 bohemima: Thank goodness age hasn’t yet cast my mind and opinions into cement that can’t be altered except with a sledgehammer.
Would that I could say the same.
Additions to your "Film>Book" list from my experience:
The African Queen
Of Human Bondage
Rebecca although it's a darn close-run thing
>113 richardderus: Oh, yes. Bette Davis was superb as a cheap tramp on the make, and Leslie Howard had just the right mixture of weakness and intelligence. Maugham’s Book was too long, I thought.
Doctor Zhivago didn’t really work for me in either form, although the movie was a visual wonder and certainly had its moments.
I’d say both forms of Rebecca are equal, although it’s hard to equal Anderson as Mrs. Danvers. Utterly chilling.
Another film far better than its book is The Wizard of Oz. Ymmv on that one; I don’t see you as a fan of that sort of movie.
>114 bohemima: I wasn't enthralled by Wizard of Oz, but the book series is nigh onto unreadable by modern standards. And I even understand and am entertained by the politics!
I love that Baum was an early proponent of filming his books, and even produced several silents of the stories. I haven't seen them since silent films make me headachey.
I thought of another Film>Book: Blade Runner>Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and, on TV, The Man in the High Castle is superior to the book. The series is a Prime glory! Oh, and The Expanse is better than Leviathan Wakes and the other novels in the series. SUCH a disappointing set of books, I was craving a really immersive space opera and they were flatflatflat. The TV series is rich and technicolor.
>108 bohemima: Hi, Gail! I have Let's Kill Constance waiting on my shelf -- I ordered it after reading the first of the three related Bradbury books you referred to, Death is a Lonely Business which I . . . let's see . . . rated 4 1/2 stars. I have the second, A Graveyard for Lunatics, also waiting on the shelf. I don't know why I haven't gotten to them yet.
Wow! All of these threads!
I guess it's been a while since I looked in on you here.
Why, hello, Kath! Glad to see you!
>115 richardderus: I don’t know, Richard. I read the Androids book just this year and found it more, oh, humanly emotional, if that is at all clear.
I’m not familiar with the others. My sf knowledge is narrow, although that’s something I’m going to work on next year.
I do have High Castle on the kindle awaiting my attention.
>116 tymfos: Terri, I have A Graveyard for Lunatics (who could resist that title?) on the kindle, but somehow not the first one. Next year is my year to read/winnow out some of the oddball fantasy/sf type books in my various collections. I haven’t read much fantasy, and very little sf, so I think I’m in for a treat.
>98 PaulCranswick: Paul it may be that Graves is a far more clever author in the Claudius books than I first thought. In I, Claudius our man is constantly in danger, he lives on the periphery—the distant periphery—of power, and can afford to share with his readers a jaundiced and entertaining view of the goings on at the beginning of imperial Rome.
But in Claudius the God he has *become* power, is entrenched in the working of the court, and his view naturally changed. The second book is much closer in tone to the writing of, say Julius Caesar, and thus becomes a bit pompous and self-congratulating.
Still an excellent pair of reads!
I’m still overwhelmed by the quantity of books around this house.
>118 bohemima: I'd love to hear what you think of The Man in the High Castle after reading it, my dear lady; he was a gonzo writer with a clear, unsparing eye, though he could veer into prose sins I will not prejudice you against.
The TV show is not the least bit experimental or form-bending. In fact, it relies on the conventionalities of TV tropes for a good deal of its effect on viewers, the sheer banality of TV episode structure containing such...dissonant...imagery. I'm quite taken with it.
I am, too. And I also find myself wondering WTH I was thinking, that I actually HAVE the book to begin with. And, I'm in a book slump, so *shrug* Dunno.
Hi Gail, hope you are having a really nice weekend my dear, sending love and hugs.
>120 bohemima: That is a very good and insightful take on the two books, Gail. The first one would be on my top ten lists for sure and I dare say I would have cared less for the second had it not basked in the glory of the first. xx
>123 mckait: Kath, I’m sorry about the book slump! There’s nothing worse, IMO.
On buying: I mostly don’t look at any offers, and strictly stick to WL-ing any recommendations from here or there. It’s a very difficult habit to break. If I can keep it up for 90 days ( my foolishly optimistic goal), I may be able to break the spell.
When I start to feel guilty about something, it’s time to back off and regroup, I think.
>124 johnsimpson: Good afternoon, John! I had a great weekend!
Saturday was a day to read and rest, do somehow household things, and enjoy our fine but unseasonably warm weather.
Yesterday I went to a show with a friend. It was full of what I call “happy music” or old-time rock’n’roll. Lots of fun!
>125 PaulCranswick: Paul, thanks! The Claudius books continued to roll around in the back of my mind, I guess, until I figured it out. Maybe.
I hope this week will be a good one for you.
>127 Crazymamie: Mamie, I really liked Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which was a fairly recent read for me. The feeling was completely different from the movie, which I enjoyed in a completely different way.
I’m really looking forward to exploring a neglected section of my physical and virtual shelves in 2018.
>131 bohemima: So true about the movie, which I also loved. Have you seen the newest one? We saw it in the theatre, and it was full of fabulous.
>134 johnsimpson: John, it’s hard to disappoint me with that kind of music. Having two older brothers got me going on it practically from birth, and there was always a radio (or three) playing in the house as I grew up.
Are you at all a fan of science fiction and/or fantasy? I’m not sure, but I don’t recall seeing it featured on your thread.
By a supreme act of self-discipline—mostly a desire to get these books out of the house—I have a couple of pocket reviews to deliver.
First up is Secrets of the Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford. Set on the island of Harris, up in the Hebrides, this is one of those double stories: a modern discovery of a skeleton leads to an investigation of long-ago events. This isn’t an especially original idea; I’ve read several novels recently with this plot device.
In this case Gifford spins a tale about the fate of the Scottish crofters at the hands of their English landlords. While not as horrific as the Irish famine—and not nearly as well publicized—this somewhat obscure event had many of its own cruel tragedies.
The ancient myths of selkies and mermaids weave in and out of the book, adding both interest and a great deal of charm.
As I mentioned last thread, I managed to read Case Histories twice in two years. I must have been very distracted the first time, but I was much more engaged this time. Jackson Brodie is an interesting, not-too-flawed character, Atkinson managed to tie together four disparate stories well and with a minimum of coincidence, and there was enough humor and mystery to ensure that I’ll continue with this series.
Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh is simply a delight. But it’s also my most recent example of “right book, right time.” I’d tried to read it at least three times since I got it, and only Waugh’s name kept it from the Discard Pile.
Paul Pennyfeather is studying for the Church at Oxford. He becomes the victim of a stupid collegiate prank and is sent down for “ indecency.”
At a loss for direction, Paul winds up teaching at an appalling boys’ school. This section of the book is an accurate and adept skewering of Nicholas Nickelby’s time at Dotheboys Hall.
Paul’s misadventures there result in his dismissal. Several further mis-steps result in a jail term. Somehow all works out, more or less, in the end. Some of the plot twists are grotesquely funny.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not least for the portrait of a truly innocent young man assailed by an all-too corrupt world. Lots of fun—and much better than its literary stepfather, Dickens’ Nicholas Nickelby.
Engaged to Die is just an average cozy sort of mystery. The main attraction of this series is, for me, the setting: an Outer Island similar to Hilton Head, but a bit less upscale.
The main character, Annie Darling, is only somewhat annoying as she pursues her unofficial investigation into the murder of a charming ne’er do well.
This one didn’t work for me. The plot, characters, and internal conflict were trite, and there’s nothing memorable about the writing. Unless you’re a big fan of the cozy, skip this one.
The thirty-first of February by Julian Symons is a wild one. More of a psychological suspense story than a mystery, it drew me in immediately and kept me intrigued right to the surprise of an ending.
The main character is an office drone named Anderson. His wife recently died by falling down the stairs.
And his troubles only begin there. Did he push her? Is guilt driving him mad? Or is someone—perhaps the real killer—trying to make him think he’s going around the bend?
Clocks change time, calendar pages seem to move and/or disappear, appointments and simple office tasks become completely muddled...the increasing confusion, fear, and finally terror make the reader wonder what on earth is going on.
This book is tightly plotted and filled with an increasing sense of doom. Highly recommended.
Wow! look at you reviewing books and all sorts of things. That last one looks good!
>141 bohemima: That sounds like a fun read, Gail!
And waaay back up there: "I’d say both forms of Rebecca are equal, although it’s hard to equal Anderson as Mrs. Danvers. Utterly chilling." I wholly agree.
>141 bohemima: Not available at my library nor, it shocks me to say, in the county! I'd never have thought that would be the case.
>136 bohemima:, Hi Gail, I am a fan of Sci-Fi and Fantasy but haven't read much since I first started reading this area in 2009. I have read the Commonwealth Saga and the first in the Nights Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton and I love his books and I have started the Wheel of Time series and have quite a number of books in the loft to get to which I think is going to be my plan for 2018.
Hope you are having a good day my dear.
>142 mckait: Kath, I’m doing little reviews as reminders...you know, so I won’t forget I read the darned things.
The Symons book is a real winner. It answers the old Python line—“and now for something completely different...” I loved it for the strangeness.
Good to see you out and about!
>143 EBT1002: Hi, Ellen! Yes, see my remarks directly above on the Symons book. I’ve found his work somewhat uneven from my point of view, but this short book is really good.
>144 richardderus: Richard, I had to buy this one, and got an old used copy from Amazon. It was well worth it.
I’m glad to see you here.
>145 johnsimpson: John, I’m planning on reading some sf/f from my shelves in 2018 too. Quite a few books are demanding to be read...I enjoyed sf in my tweens/early teens (the brothers again), and read just a tiny bit of fantasy as an adult. I’d like to revisit some of it to see what’s to my taste, if anything.
Weekend coming up! I hope is well with you and yours.
>146 karenmarie: Hey, Karen! Yep, I’ve been amazed many times by how my interests, moods, amount of time available, can make as I approach a book. It has to be an incredibly dull book for me not to give it two or three chances over time.
I’ve found a new (and prolific!) mystery author! You can see how easily pleased I am.
The author is George Bellairs, and the book I started with is Corpses in Enderby. What a ride!
The story starts on a dark and stormy night (oh, yeah) with a young suitor being literally thrown out of his love’s house by her father. Said father is immediately killed by a bullet to the head.
Who did it? And how? And what’s more interesting, why?
The victim is almost universally disliked in town, and despised by his family. The family is a spectacular array of the unattractive, greedy, and weird. Inspector Littlejohn and Detective Cromwell take on this formidable crew and manage to solve the case and keep their senses of humor at the same time.
The stringent humor is the biggest draw for this series. I loved the book and will be looking forward to the rest of Bellairs’ work.
>153 bohemima: Isn't it great to find a new author with lots of books to read, Gail? That one sounds fun! I'll have to keep an eye out for his stuff.
>153 bohemima: Harry, this was such a joy to me. I honestly didn’t believe that I’d find something like this. It’s like a hidden treasure chest.
They are easily available at very reasonable prices on Amazon..
>155 bohemima: That's very good to know, Gail. Thanks for sharing the info!
I’ve read Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers at least three times. And every time I find something different, which speaks to how good this book is.
This time I was struck by the interplay between the characters as several old grads return to their college for a reunion. The conflict between those who choose a solely academic life and those who choose to combine that with a family is sharply drawn, and not all that far off from today.
A different aspect of the book bothers every time, too. This time, Harriet’s need to call in Peter to help her...well. I understand that the books are, in the last analysis, all about Wimsey. But the contrast between Sayers’ fictional world and her own life couldn’t be more striking.
It doesn’t help that Sayers was head-over-ears in love with her leading man by this time.
Sounds as though I didn’t like the book. Not at all—I love this story and I’m sure I’ll read it again—and notice new aspects then, too.
Taking a break for just a day or two, maybe.
November is Nonfiction Month on Booktube—failing at that so far, but have two lined up.
It’s also Tome Toppling Month. I’m in the middle of Villette by Charlotte Bronte, certainly not the most cheerful or easy book I’ve ever read. It’s intriguing, though, and I’m sticking with it.
Another tome to topple this month (I hope) is The Way We Live Now, which has been hanging around for a long time...I know Liz did a group read on it.
Since I’ve read so much already this year, I thought I might concentrate on just three or four books this month, some weightier works that are a little challenging.
December is my Visit San Francisco Month, so Reading is apt to be either limited or light in both weight and tone.
We’ll see if I can actually accomplish a goal.
>158 bohemima: Enjoy your time, Gail!
I completed very few books in October. Though I did a fair amount of reading, much of it was in large collections of essays that included some I didn't read. November is off to a somewhat slow start as well (there are still some of those collections around), and I'm sure that my new plan to read an old pulp magazine each week will take away from the book totals, too. I know I have some tomes to topple, too, but I'm not sure how many I'll manage. :-)
>151 bohemima:, Hi Gail I have one book that I have started twice but for some reason just couldn't progress much beyond page 70 and it is a long book but I will give it one more go. I think something happened whilst reading previously and it just threw me and I put it aside.
I think that the majority of my 2018 reads will be books of over 500 pages but things may change at some point in the year so I am not fully committing myself to this but I hope it will last the full year.
Hope you are having a good week so far dear friend and send love and hugs from both of us.
>157 bohemima: yes, Sayers (and Christie) are rare mystery writers I can reread Gail. It’s the tone and atmosphere I love, and I don’t always remember who dun it.
>157 bohemima: The only 'logic' that makes any sense of Harriet having to call Peter in to help is that Peter is a real-world detective and Harriet writes mysteries but doesn't solve them. Even Have His Carcase requires Peter to keep Harriet from getting arrested and it requires all three of them (he, she, and Bunter) to work out the timing and seeming paradoxes of the evidence. Gaudy Night is among my absolute favorites because of Harriet's internal battle about Peter and his constancy.
Have you ever seen A Dorothy Sayers Mystery, the 1987 BBC adaptation of Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, and Gaudy Night with Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter? I thought them excellent, given the time constraints and constraints of the medium. Petherbridge and Walter are beautifully cast in appearance and in acting skill.
Love the conversation about book vs. movie.
Years ago my husband and I saw the film version of The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks. We thought it was beautiful, and very moving. Then we each tried reading the book, and found it very poorly written. Haven't revisited either in the last 40+ years, so maybe we'd feel differently about one or the other now.
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