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souloftherose's 2012 reading journal - part three - April showers and more

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Jun 16, 2012, 5:32am Top

April showers indeed.

This is my third year in the 75 books challenge group and I really appreciate being able to talk about books with the lovely people in this group and I value the visits of everyone who stops by so please feel free to comment or just lurk.

Somehow I seem to read a fair number of books in a year which is good, because I have more than a fair number of books in my TBR pile!

Books read in 2012:

Books read from TBR pile


#1 The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (Library)
#2 Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon by Jane Austen (Reread)
#3 The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (TBR)
#4 One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (TBR)
#5 When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (TBR)
#6 Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (Library)
#7 A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (TBR)
#8 Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (Borrowed)
#9 The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield (TBR)
#10 Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (TBR)
#11 At Mrs Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#12 Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (Library)
#13 The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin (Free kindle read)
#14 King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (Reread)
#15 Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (TBR)
#16 Nothing But Ghosts by Judith Hermann (TBR)
#17 Stop the Train by Geraldine McCaughrean (TBR)
#18 The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Reread)
#19 The Monk by M. G. Lewis (Library)


#20 Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (TBR)
#21 Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (Reread)
#22 A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (TBR)
#23 March by Geraldine Brooks (TBR)
#24 The Secret River by Kate Grenville (TBR)
#25 Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti and Ian McEwan (Library)
#26 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (TBR)
#27 The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (TBR)
#28 The Heart of MidLothian by Walter Scott (TBR)
#29 Witch Wood by John Buchan (TBR)
#30 Death Masks by Jim Butcher (Library)
#31 Palladian by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#32 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Free kindle read)
#33 Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Library)
#34 Perishing Poles by Anita Ganeri (TBR)


#35 Timeless by Gail Carriger (TBR)
#36 Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (TBR)
#37 Room by Emma Donoghue (TBR)
#38 Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym (TBR)
#39 Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon (Free kindle read)
#40 Dr Johnson's London: Coffee-Houses and Climbing Boys, Medicine, Toothpaste and Gin, Poverty and Press-Gangs, Freakshows and Female Education by Liza Picard (Library)
#41 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Library)
#42 The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen edited by Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster (Library)
#43 State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (TBR)
#44 The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People by Andrew Marr (Library)
#45 A Game of Thrones by G. R. R. Martin (Dan's)
#46 Catharine and Other Writings by Jane Austen (TBR)
#47 Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (TBR)
#48 A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#49 Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers (TBR)
#50 Troubles by J. G. Farrell (TBR)
#51 Tallis' Third Tune by Ellen K. Ekstrom (Free kindle)
#52 Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy L. Sayers (TBR)


#53 Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (TBR)
#54 The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (Reread)
#55 The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (TBR)
#56 Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (Library)
#57 Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken (TBR)
Abandoned: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (Library)
#58 The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (Free kindle read)
#59 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (TBR)
#60 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Library)
#61 Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov (Reread)
#62 Foundation and Earth by Isaac ASimov (TBR)
#63 Cold Earth by Sarah Moss (TBR)
#64 A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#65 The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Reread)
#66 American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens (TBR)
#67 Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (TBR)
#68 The Snow Child by Eoqyn Ivey (Library)
#69 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (Reread)
#70 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (TBR)


#71 Revelation by C. J. Sansom (TBR)
#72 Heartstone by C. J. Sansom (TBR)
#73 The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (TBR)
#74 Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Library)
#75 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Reread)
#76 Basil by Wilkie Collins (TBR)
#77 The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey (TBR)
#78 Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (Library)
#79 Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (TBR)
#80 The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green (Free kindle read)
#81 Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones (TBR)
#82 Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale (TBR)
#83 Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis (TBR)
#84 A Strange Disappearance by Anna Katharine Green (Free kindle read)
#85 Remake by Connie Willis (TBR)
#86 Rose in Bloom by Louisa M. Alcott (Free kindle read)


#87 Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart (TBR)
#88 The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (TBR)
#89 Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography by P. D. James (TBR)
#90 On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (TBR)
#91 A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (Reread)
#92 Madame Sousatzka by Bernice Rubens (TBR)
#93 We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Library)

Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 4:50pm Top

In my never-ending quest to try and reduce the size of my TBR pile, I am going to try and restrict my book acquisitions to 1 book in for every 2 books read from the TBR pile.

So far, I'm not off to a great start as I have read 40 books from the TBR pile and purchased 34. But at least the TBR pile has reduced a little

Books acquired in 2012:

#1 River Boy by Tim Bowler (Kindle sale)
#2 At Mrs Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor (Book depository) READ
#3 Palladian by Elizabeth Taylor (Amazon) READ
#4 The Conan Chronicles Volume 1 by Robert E. Howard (Bookmooch)
#5 Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson (Waterstones.com)
#6 The Guardian Review: Book of Short Stories edited by Lisa Allardice (Charity bookshop)
#7 Restoration London by Liza Picard (Charity bookshop)
#8 The Secret River by Kate Grenville (Kindle daily deal) READ

#9 The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey (Kindle daily deal) READ
#10 A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Kindle) READ
#11 Room by Emma Donoghue (Kindle) READ
#12 Look at Me by Jennifer Egan (Kindle daily deal)
#13 Embassytown by China Mieville (Kindle)
#14 Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff (ebay)
#15 Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (Bookmooch)
#16 Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill (Kindle daily deal)
#17 A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor (Waterstones.com) READ

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

#24 A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor (Waterstones.com) READ
#25 Revelation by C. J. Sansom (Waterstones.com) READ
#26 The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (Waterstones.com) READ
#27 The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Kindle sale)
#28 Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Kindle sale)
#29 The Dickens Dictionary by John Sutherland (Kindle sale)
#30 Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson (Kindle sale)
#31 Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (Kindle sale) READ
#32 A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor (Elizabeth Taylor day)
#33 The Love-Child by Edith Olivier (Dee)
#34 From the Land of the Moon by Milena Angus (Bookmooch)
#35 The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville (Charity bookshop)
#36 No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod (Charity bookshop)
#37 Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson (Charity bookshop)

#38 The Greek Myths by Robert Graves (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#39 Big Money by P. G. Wodehouse (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#40 Harriet Hume by Rebecca West (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#41 The Gypsy's Baby by Rosamond Lehmann (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#42 Talking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#43 Mrs Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale (Waterstones for review) READ
#44 The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers (Bookmooch)
#45 Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers (Bookmooch)
#46 Love, Sex, Death and Words by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender (Kindle daily deal)
#47 Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Waterstones.com) READ
#48 The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (pseud. Charles Warren Adams (British Library)
#49 That Lady by Kaste O'Brien (elkiedee)
#50 Loving and Giving by Molly Keane (elkiedee)
#51 Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr (elkiedee)
#52 Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (elkiedee)
#53 Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (elkiedee)
#54 To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey (elkiedee)
#55 The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Abebooks) READ
#56 The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale (Bookmooch)

#57 The Library Book by Alan Bennett et al (Kindle sale)
#58 The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett (Bookmooch)

Edited: Jun 8, 2012, 1:49pm Top

2012 reading plans

I'm not going to do a formal 12/12 challenge this year but I do have some reading plans for 2012 which I'm going to list below. I've added another category for books read in memory of Janetinlondon, a LibraryThing friend who died at the beginning of this year.

1. Charles Dickens

I'm going to continue with my reread of Dickens major works and also try some of his less well-known short stories and some books written about Dickens.

#1 Barnaby Rudge (1841)
#2 American Notes (1842)

By Dickens:
Barnaby Rudge
American Notes
Martin Chuzzlewit
Pictures from Italy
Dombey & Son

About Dickens:
Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women by Jenny Hartley
Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit by John Bowen
The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin
The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens edited by John O. Jordan

2. Other 19th century British authors

#1 King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (1885)
#2 The Heart of MidLothian by Walter Scott (1818)
#3 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
#4 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
#5 Basil by Wilkie Collins (1852)
#6 The Trail of the Serpent by May Elizabeth Braddon (1861)

Reading more by Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, William Thackery, Walter Scott and anyone else I think of

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

3. 18th century literature

#1 The Monk by M. G. Lewis
#2 Catharine and Other Writings by Jane Austen

The more I read from the 19th century the more I realise I need to understand what was written in the 18th century and after my success with The Mysteries of Udolpho I'm going to try some more 18th century literature

The Monk by M. G. Lewis
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe
Evelina by Fanny Burney
A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft
Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson

4. Fantasy and Science fiction Masterworks

These are part of a publisher series by Gollancz which is reprinting classic works of science fiction and fantasy. I've collected a few but I'm not very good at reading them.

In the TBR pile:
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke
Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
The Complete Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp
Beauty by Sheri Tepper
The Conan Chronicles Volume 1 by Robert E. Howard
The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick

4. Carnegie Medal winners and shortlist

The Carnegie Medal is an award for children's books given by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK. I haven't read a bad book from the awards list and I have quite a few to read.

#1 The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (1946 winner)
#2 Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (2010 shortlist)
#3 Stop the Train by Geraldine McCaughrean (2001 shortlist)
#4 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2009 shortlist)

In the TBR pile:
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly
A Stranger at Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston
River Boy by Tim Bowler
The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson
King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
Stop the Train by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
The Family at One End Street by Eve Garnett

5. Orange Prize winners and nominees

To carry on reading from the Orange Prize winners and nominees.

#1 A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
#2 Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
#3 Room by Emma Donoghue
#4 State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
#5 Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
#6 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
#7 Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
#8 The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
#9 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
#10 Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding

In the TBR pile:
Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Road Home by Rose Tremain
The Siege by Helen Dunmore
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Small Island by Andrea Levy
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville

6. The Other Elizabeth Taylor

The Virago group are doing a year-long celebration, with monthly reads chosen by the group as 2012 marks the centenary of Elizabeth Taylor's birth and I'm hoping to join in.

#1 At Mrs. Lippincote’s
#2 Palladian
#3 A View of the Harbour
#4 A Wreath of Roses

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

6. Virago Modern Classics

I collected a lot of these last year so I need to get reading!

#1 The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
#2 Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons
A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
Poor Cow by Nell Dunn
Anderby Wold by Winifred Holtby
The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby
Poor Caroline by Winifred Holtby
Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy
All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville West
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann
Union Street by Pat Barker
The Glass-Blowers by Daphne du Maurier
The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Children by Edith Wharton

7. Janetinlondon

In memoriam

#1 Troubles by J. G. Farrell

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels (5 stars)
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4 stars)
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (4 stars)
Lustrum by Robert Harris (4 stars)
The Road Home by Rose Tremain (4 stars)
Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes by Mollie Panter-Downes (4.5 stars)
Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland (3 stars)
Possession by A. S. Byatt (5 stars)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (3.5 stars)
The Guardian Review: Book of Short Stories edited by Lisa Allardice
Union Street by Pat Barker (4 stars)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (4 stars)
A Clash of Kings by G. R. R. Martin (4 stars)
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (5 stars)
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexandre McCall Smith (4 stars)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (5 stars)
Atonement by Ian McEwan (5 stars)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (5 stars)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (5 stars)

Edited: Jun 2, 2012, 9:02am Top

An idea borrowed from Liz (lyzard), ongoing series that I am actively reading. This doesn't include series where I have the first book in my TBR pile (i.e. series I haven't started reading yet aren't included). An asterisk indicates a series where I already have a copy of the next book.

*Aberystwyth: Next up: The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce (3/6)
Albert Campion: Next up Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham (6/19)
*Allan Quatermain: Next up Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard (2/15)
Bas-Lag: Next up The Scar by China Mieville (2/3)
*Chaos Walking: Next up The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (2/4)
*Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox: Next up The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart (2/3)
*Cicero: Next up Lustrum by Robert Harris (2/2)
Cissy: Next up Pull Out All the Stops by Geraldine McCaughrean (2/2)
Colonial Trilogy: Next up: The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville (2/3)
*Daddy Long Legs: Next up Dear Enemy by Jean Webster (2/2)
The Deed of Paksenarrion: Next up Divided Allegiance by Elizabeth Moon (2/3)
*Dolphin Ring Cycle: Next up Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff (3/8)
Dragonriders of Pern: Next up Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey (2/25)
*Ebenezer Gryce: Next up Hand and Ring by Anna Katharine Green (3/12)
Empire Trilogy: Next up: The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell (2/3)
Inheritance Trilogy: Next up The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (2/3)
Les Voyages Extraordinaires: Next up A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (3/54)
*Lord Peter Wimsey: Next up Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers (10/15)
The Magicians: Next up The Magician King by Lev Grossman (2/3?)
*Magid: Next up The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (2/2)
*Mapp and Lucia: Next up Lucia's Progress by E. F. Benson (5/6)
*Mars Trilogy: Next up Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (2/3)
My Swordhand is Singing: Next up The Kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick (2/2)
*The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: Next up Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith (3/13)
The Penderwicks: Next up The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (2/3)
*Richard Hannay: Next up The Three Hostages by John Buchan (4/5)
Ruth Galloway: Next up The House at Sea's End by Elly Grifiiths (3/4)
Seven Kingdoms: Next up Fire by Kristin Cashore (2/3)
Shadows of the Apt: Next up: Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky (2/7)
*Sherlock Holmes: Next up The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (7/9)
*A Song of Ice and Fire: Next up A Clash of Kings by G. R. R. Martin (2/5)
Sorcery and Celia: Next up The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (2/3)
Turtle: Next up Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver (2/2)
Vorkosigan (Chronological order): Next up Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold (6/16)
Wolves Chronicles: Next up Nightbirds on Nantucket by Joan Aiken (3/11)

Completed series
Robot/Empire/Foundation story order: Read all the Asimov authored books (15/15)
Eight Cousins: by Louisa May Alcott (2/2)

Up to date series
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache: Latest book A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (7/8)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Latest book Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (1/2)
Dragonslayer: Latest book The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (2/3)
Jackson Brodie: Latest book Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (4/4)
Rivers of London: Latest book Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch (2/3)
Shades of Grey: Latest book Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (1/3)
Thursday Next: Latest book One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde (6/8)
Matthew Shardlake: Latest book Heartstone by C. J. Sansom (5/5)
Wolf Hall: Latest book Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (2/3)

Apr 26, 2012, 6:54am Top

Hi Heather - Lovely new thread. I was just looking over the reading you've done so far this year, and I'm quite blown away!

Apr 26, 2012, 7:07am Top

Happy New Thread Day, Heather! I agree with Kerri, your reading has been phenomenal!! Plus, you're doing a great job reading....and replacing books on your TBR shelves.

Apr 26, 2012, 7:08am Top

Nice new thread Heather - very appropriate image:)

Also very impressed by your reading so far.

Apr 26, 2012, 8:20am Top

Thank you Kerri, Lynda and calm! And hello to Caty from my last thread :-)

" you're doing a great job reading....and replacing books on your TBR shelves." :-) Yes, I did have a mini-splurge on books this month...

I am going to do some reviews today. I am, I am...

Apr 26, 2012, 8:32am Top

I am borrowing your series reading tracking method. I have trouble remembering where I am and even what is in a series or not. Nice organization tool! I am visiting again in the near future to look up the books you have read, since a large number are new to me.

Apr 26, 2012, 8:57am Top

Hi Heather, checking back in after a long while - love the pic at the top of your thread! You've been reading lots of interesting things this year - I shall have to check back on your old threads to see what you thought!

#3 How very sad - I hadn't realised that JanetinLondon had died. That's a great category to have.

C19th British authors - I do hope you enjoy Vanity Fair as much as I did - I think that Becky Sharpe is one of my all time favourite characters

Carnegie - amused that The Ask and the Answer is on your list twice, even it was a typo - highly appropriate ;o)

Virago Modern Classics - have you read The Frost in May? I know it's not on your list, but can I recommend it anyway (if you haven't)?

#4 Good idea, I may crib this too. ...and thank you for the reminder that I still haven't read the most From Aberystwyth with Love, even though I've had it a couple of years... Good holiday reading...

Apr 26, 2012, 9:34am Top

Lovely new thread, and your picture is wonderful!

Apr 26, 2012, 10:36am Top

A new thread - how exciting! Love the picture up top. I also really love reading through your lists - for next year I am so stealing both the reading plan for the year idea and the ongoing series list. What fun! I also have to tell you that my daughter so loved the print at the top of your last thread that we tracked it down and ordered a copy for her room. Maybe you should work on commission - place the work on an unknown artist at the top of your thread and for every LT sale you get a percentage which you then use to support your book buying habit!! It could work!

Apr 26, 2012, 12:13pm Top

Happy New Thread! The rain is really like that at present, isn't it. Stair-rods... I find it depressing.

I like the series listing idea too - I noticed it on Liz's thread. I might borrow that for when I next start a new thread. Also your way of noting the source of books acquired and whether books read are from TBR or not is much neater than mine...

I'm doing about as well as you on my aim to read some of my VMCs - two read so far, a mere fraction of those I acquired last year and am continuing to acquire this year (though more slowly). I wonder which one I'll read next? Possibly The Weather in the Streets since I've read an earlier Lehmann this year, which this one follows on from.

Apr 26, 2012, 12:19pm Top

I love your picture. I looked at it just after looking at the weather outlook - apparently it's going to continue raining till the middle of May. Your series tracker is a really good idea - I always thought I didn't read many series but actually I read bits of series and then I'm not organised enough to follow them up.

Apr 26, 2012, 12:29pm Top

I love the picture too, Heather. Currently it is pouring down rain where I am and the picture brought a smile to my face. I also love all your book lists--for some reason I find those fascinating to read on people's threads. It's almost like seeing a picture of someone's bookshelves.

Edited: Apr 26, 2012, 12:31pm Top

Spring cleaning on the TBR-mountain, Heather. Enjoy your picture also. So good. My next Holmes is Return of Sherlock Holmes - having read the two first collections last year - and loved them - as it's a reread I suspect a similar enthusiasm on your part for these short stories.

Apr 26, 2012, 12:32pm Top

Heather: Wonderful new thread. You are so organized with your reading. I am jealous; you've read so many things I would love to get to.

Apr 26, 2012, 2:26pm Top

Hi Heather, just checking in. Lots of interesting, bookish information to start off your thread. It looks like you will be ready for another September Series and Sequels this year. I'm afraid to list all the series I am currently reading but LT tells me it's well over 100!

Apr 26, 2012, 4:08pm Top

#9 Thanks Michelle - welcome to my thread :-) I will go off and find yours in the thread book in a minute.

#10 Hi Fliss. Vanity Fair will be a reread but it's been absolutely ages since I first read it; so long in fact, that I can't remember much about it!

Well spotted about The Ask and the Answer That was obviously a deliberate mistake I'd left in just to test you all...

I haven't read The Frost in May although I'd like to, partly because I keep hearing good things about it and partly because it was the first VMC.

#11 Thanks Roni!

#12 Hi Mamie - steal away! I'm thrilled that you and your daughter bought a print of the art at the top of my thread. I just did a google image search for rain and reading (I think) and liked that image the best but I couldn't find any information about the artist. Did you find out who it was by?

#13 Hi Genny. The rain has been bad but it's also been so changeable. I let the cat out when it's sunny and then 15 minutes later it rains like that. The cat is not very impressed - I think she thinks I do it on purpose.

I feel like I've struggled to fit VMCs in as well as my Elizabeth Taylor reads. I was going to read A Pin to See the Peepshow this month. I'm not sure I'll get to it this month but I might take it with me next week.

#14 "apparently it's going to continue raining till the middle of May." I know! :-( I should be pleased - we really do need the rain but it keeps getting so dark in the daytime that it feels like February again.

#15 Thanks Pat :-)

#16 Hi Carasten. I enjoyed The Return of Sherlock Holmes but I think the earlier short story collections (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are my favourites.

#17 Thanks Beth. "You are so organized with your reading." I get told I'm organised at work and I always assumed from the state of my flat that all my organisational abilities get used up at work - perhaps some has spilled over into LT?

#18 Always ready for Series and Sequels Judy :-) It would look so much worse if I listed the series where I own the first book but haven't read it yet. In fact, I think that's one reason why I avoid those books!

Apr 26, 2012, 4:14pm Top

Just to continue the weather conversation, a quick photo of a rainbow outside our flat today. 15/20 minutes later the same piece of sky was almost completely blue and clear of clouds.

Apr 26, 2012, 4:22pm Top

I love to see rainbows Heather!

The weather is the same here, we need the rain and I am so glad we have the "shower radar" on the web these days, as Chimay dislikes getting wet, so I can plan our walks, as much as possible, between the showers.

Apr 26, 2012, 4:34pm Top

Heather, just to clarify, we bought a print of the picture at the top of your last thread - Girl Reading by Oliver Ray. Love the rainbow pic!

Apr 26, 2012, 4:40pm Top


Book #53 Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens - 2.5 stars
Source: Waterstones.com
Original publication date: 1841
Category: Dickens

Well, I have to agree with Peggy when she described reading this as 'the Rudge trudge'. I struggled, I really did - and I like Dickens. Part of the problem was definitely that I started this around the same time I was reading The Heart of Mid-Lothian by Walter Scott with Liz. They share some similarities: both are 19th century historical novels (by which I mean they were written in the 19th century but were set in an earlier period), both deal with riots and the storming of a public jail and it seems that Dickens may well have been influenced by Scott's earlier novel (as were a lot of other later 19th century writers). For me, I think it was too much to try and read them both at the same time, so BR got put to one side and then I didn't pick it up for a month. But even taking that into consideration, I still think Scott's novel is by far the stronger of the two. Dickens' characters are one of his strong points and the characters in BR were largely forgettable. I'm glad it's over.

There's probably lots of important stuff I missed but I can't even bring myself to read the probably very well-written introduction to my edition, which just shows how little I care. So, in my Dickens reread, BR now sits at the very bottom of my list of favourite Dickens' novels. I sincerely hope it stays there.

Book #54 The Last Dragonslayer and Book #55 The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde - 3.5 and 3.75 stars
Source: Amazon and Waterstones
Original publication date: 2010 and 2011

A reread of The Last Dragonslayer and a first read of the sequel, The Song of the Quarkbeast.

Fforde excels in writing entertaining fantasy novels set in overlooked locations in an alternative version of the UK. This is a new trilogy aimed at teenagers/young adults and set in Hereford of the Ununited Kingdom which follows the trials and tribulations of teenager Jennifer Strange as she tries to keep Kazam Mystical Arts Management on its feet. It's refreshing to read a young adult book that isn't a paranormal romance about vampires and werewolves (and I say that as someone who thinks some of the paranormal romances are very good - try Daughter of Smoke and Bone) but it's refreshing to read something a bit different. The only reason I haven't given these books higher ratings is because it felt very much like Jennifer Strange was a teenage version of Thursday Next. Still very enjoyable though.

I think the worldwide publication dates for this series are all out of sync so although The Song of the Quarkbeast is out in the UK I'm not sure whether it's been released elsewhere yet, The thurd book in the series is out in November in the UK.

I would also like to express my displeasure with the publishers for changing the cover design after only one book. What am I supposed to do with my now non-matching hardcover editions?!?

Apr 26, 2012, 4:45pm Top

#21 Thanks Anita :-)

#22 Mamie, I'm sorry. You did say it was my previous thread in your first message - I must have read it too fast! I think the Oliver Ray is a lovely picture too and it's so cool that you bought a print from him.

Apr 26, 2012, 5:00pm Top

Well, I guess I won't be getting The Song of the Quarkbeast anytime soon. Amazon is out of stock and charging over $28 for it!

Apr 26, 2012, 5:03pm Top

Book #56 Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick - 4.25 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date:2011

I discovered and fell in love with the Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick through LibraryThing so I was thrilled to find out that Selznick had written and illustrated another book and reserved a copy at the library straight away.

Hugo Cabret told the story of one boy, Hugo, in words and pictures. Wonderstruck tells the stories of Ben and Rose, but in this book, Ben's story is told in words and Rose's story is told in pictures - two separate stories set fifty years apart . At first this felt a little disjointed and it's not at all apparent how or if the two stories are related but after finishing the book I thought this was a brilliant method of telling the two stories. Wonderstruck is another beautiful tale from Selznick and I would highly recommend it.

Mild spoilers I thought the way Rose's story was told in pictures was particularly effective. As a deaf child, almost her only means of interpreting the world around her would be through what she sees, so telling her story solely in pictures helped the reader to really feel what that might be like, especially when compared to Ben's story told in text.

If you have read the book then I would recommend checking out the official website here as Selznick has included quite a few rticles and essays about the topics covered in the book (deaf culture, the American Museum of Natural History, Gunflight Lake etc.)

A sample of some of the drawings from the book:

Apr 26, 2012, 5:12pm Top

#25 Roni, I think that might be the UK edition that amazon.com are charging so much for. I checked Fforde's website and it looks like The Song of the Quarkbeast isn't released in the US until next year :-( In fact, not even the first book has been officially released in the US. I don't really understand why there's such a delay for this series - his other books are published in the UK and the US at roughly the same times aren't they?

Apr 26, 2012, 6:24pm Top

Hi Heather- Love the new thread and love the rainbow! I'm also glad you enjoyed Wonderstruck. I did too and was lucky enough to see him at an author event and get a signed copy. He does marvelous work.

Edited: Apr 26, 2012, 7:09pm Top

Now I see why you were unimpressed with my "ongoing series" collection! :)

Apr 26, 2012, 7:21pm Top

Lovely new-ish thread, Heather! I'm impressed from every angle at your 40 from the shelf books read to 34 new acquisitions. The balance is on the sane side, and I'm for that even if I can't do it.
I also continue to agree with you that *BR* belongs at the very bottom of the Dickens pile. I'm glad to be finished with a reread, but I've been slow to get back to Dombey and Son, which I do really love just because it was too much of a good thing on top of *BR*. Pictures from Italy is a nice break, but I'm not going through it at any speed either - or through anything else for that matter.
I enjoy all your images! We could use some rain! I love the black clouds and rainbow, and those drawings from Wonderstruck are great. I won't read the book, but I appreciated the look!

Edited: Apr 27, 2012, 8:37am Top

I love so many things in yr. new thread! The April Showers for one, the series list, for another - so useful and helpful!!! and finally I didn't even know Fforde was writing fantasy. I'll have to check those out! What a feast.

I'm back to add -- just thinking about all the series I'm 'in the middle of' is kind of terrifying!

Apr 27, 2012, 8:55am Top

#28 Thanks Mark. How lovely to have a signed edition of Wonderstruck. So far I've only got Selznick's books from the library but they're so lovely that I would like to invest in my own copies one day.

#29 :-) I'm sure yours contains almost as many series as mine and your series seem to contain more books than the ones I'm reading! Listing them out like that makes me want to try and get some easy wins by prioritising the 2 and 3 book series.

#30 Thanks Peggy. I did manage to read CD's American Notes this month and was relieved to find that I did enjoy it after BR! Martin Chuzzlewit will be my next Dickens, but after my holiday.

#31 Hi Lucy! I think Fforde's very hard to classify. I've always thought of all his books as broadly falling within fantasy because they all contain fantastical elements (like the Bookworld) but in bookshops I used to see them under crime and they do contain crime/mystery elements. The Dragonslayer series is the first to really feature magic though, but see my comment to Roni in msg 27 as, unfortunately, I don't think this series has been released in the US yet.

"just thinking about all the series I'm 'in the middle of' is kind of terrifying!" It was quite scary but also quite therapeutic to list them all out. I did allow myself to ignore series that I'm technically in the middle of but not sure if I want to invest the time to finish or get up to date with (Jim Butcher's Dresden Files for example).

Apr 27, 2012, 11:18am Top

Wow Heather what a flying start to Thread #3 - congratulations.

Sorry to see you struggle with Barnaby Trudge and am almost embarrased to admit I recall enjoying it when I got round to it 15 years ago. Maybe my memory deceives me.

Apr 27, 2012, 2:46pm Top

#33 No need to be embarrassed (or almost embarrassed). I remember liking BR the first time I read it too - I could just have been in the wrong mood for it this time.

Book #57 Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken - 4 stars
Source: Oxfam bookshop
Original publication date: 1964

A sequel to The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, although I think the book would also stand alone, this is another well-written old-fashioned children's adventure story from Joan Aiken. It's set in the same world as Wolves, where King James III is on the throne and there are Hanoverian plots to overthrow the Stuart rulers. Great fun - I want the next one!

Book #57.5 Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom - 0.5 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date: 1997

Bleuch - did not finish. This was the book chosen for my RL reading group so not something I would normally choose to read... and I feel justified by the fact that I loathed it. There are countless positive reviews so I'm not going to rant about why I loathed it in case I offend someone but this is not my cup of tea at all.

Book #58 The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim - 4 stars
Source: Girlebooks
Original publication date: 1922

A lovely gentle read about four women who decide to take a holiday in an Italian castle in April. None of them knew each other before this trip and each has a reason for wanting to get away from it all. This is 'feel-good' rather than realistic fiction - how often does a holiday actually solve all your problems? - but von Arnim writes beautifully and the journey of self-discovery for each woman is well-done so it stops short (in my view) of becoming overly sentimental.

Apr 27, 2012, 2:52pm Top

Ah, so now you've met Dido Twite! She's one of my favourite characters, and you'll see lots more of her if you continue the Wolves series.

Shame about Morrie - I've never heard of that one, and won't go looking in a hurry!

Apr 27, 2012, 3:05pm Top

Hi Heather -

I'm a little late to the party, but I thought I'd add some comments on Sayer's Have His Carcase. I've always had mixed feelings about this book. As a Sayers / Lord Peter fan I like it because it furthers the Lord Peter / Harriet relationship. I even think the mystery itself is rather interesting. But the solving of the mystery - timetables, reenactments, puzzles, etc. - is a bit of a slog, in my opinion. Murder Must Advertise, on the other hand, is one of my favorites, although many people don't seem to like it as much as I do. At any rate, I hope you enjoy it!

I intended to read The Enchanted April this month, but I doubt it's going to happen. I suppose May will do just as well!

Thanks for all the great reviews.

Edited: Apr 27, 2012, 3:35pm Top

Book #59 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - 4.5 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date: 2008
Category: Carnegie Medal (shortlisted)

For some reason, two weeks after finishing this book, I am still struggling to work out what I think of it. Powerful, dark and absolutely gut-wrenching at times, this book stirred up a lot of controversy when it was shortlisted for the Carnegie Prize. It is violent but violence is never glorified. In fact, this book covers so many topics that I think it's vital for young people to know (faith, hope, anger, relationships between men and women (and I don't mean romance-y ones)) but most importantly, in Patrick Ness' own words, 'How do you stay an individual when the pressure to conform, to change who you are, is actually life-threatening?'

Controversy aside, this is both brilliant and terrifying. It is a young adult dystopia which feels like a genre which is (perhaps) slowly being done to death at the moment but this feels fresh. If you're only going to read one young adult dystopian series then throw The Hunger Games in the bin and read this. (No disrespect intended to The Hunger Games books which I did enjoy - just hyperbole).

I have the remaining books in the trilogy and I thought that once I started I would race through them but there's only so much gut-wrenching emotion I can take in a month, so the sequel, The Ask and the Answer is on list for May.

Book #60 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - 5 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date: 2011
Category: Orange Prize (shortlisted)

I don't think I can really add anything to all the other reviews written by people in the group, so I will just say that Madeline Miller has done a fantastic job with this retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus from Homer's The Iliad - it was just beautiful. I haven't read The Iliad before: the nearest I've come is watching Brad Pitt prance around in Troy but this was perfectly accessible despite that. In fact, it has inspired me to try reading The Iliad later this year.

Apr 27, 2012, 3:32pm Top

#35 I loved Dido Genny! In fact, she's the reason I really want to read Nightbirds on Nantucket soon.

#36 Thank you for the comments about Have His Carcase Dejah. I'm always reassured to hear that someone else has struggled with the aspects of a book I've struggled with :-) And very pleased to hear you felt Murder Must Advertise was an improvement.

Hope you enjoy The Enchanted April - it made me desperately want to go on holiday and be surrounded by sunshine and blooming flowers so it might be better to read it nearer the summer!

Apr 27, 2012, 3:42pm Top

#37 - Wow! Lots of books! I'm intrigued by The Knife of Never Letting Go, even though I've grown a bit tired of dystopias lately (and I haven't even read The Hunger Games). Perhaps I'll try it as an audiobook at some point.

And The Song of Achilles - you too? I suppose I might have to try this after all. I've always had a slight aversion to Ancient Greece. Even as a child, I could never stand the legends and mythology unit in English class, but there must be something to this,with all the rave reviews. I suppose I'm sold.

Apr 27, 2012, 4:13pm Top

My copy of The Song of Achilles just arrived about an hour ago. I'm really excited to start it but I have about a zillion books on the go at the moment which should give me pause but probably won't. You made The Knife of Never Letting Go sound pretty interesting too.

Apr 27, 2012, 5:24pm Top

Sounds like you've been doing a lot of good reading recently. The Enchanted April is one of my favourites - a really nice feel good book. I do want to get around to The knife of Never Letting Go - my son's had it for some time.

Apr 27, 2012, 5:26pm Top

#39 Yep, me too! I think *Achilles* is more about Achilles and Patroclus as people than about the Trojan War (although that's happening in the background) but it does contain legendary elements - so the gods are included as real beings and other mythical creatures are also included. I was always fascinated by the Ancient Greeks as a child, so whilst I think you can read it without needing to know anything about the Greek myths, I honestly don't know if someone who dislikes the Greek myths and legends would enjoy it. I think it's such a good book that it's probably worth a try if you can get hold of a library copy (but don't hate me if you don't like it!)

#40 The Song of Achilles is very readable Pat - hope you enjoy it :-)

Apr 27, 2012, 5:26pm Top

#41 Hi Rhian. The Enchanted April is the second von Arnim I've read and I think she's becoming one of my favourite feel-good authors.

Apr 27, 2012, 5:31pm Top

Tomorrow we're off to Exmoor. I'm not going to disclose the number of paper books I'm taking because it's far in excess of the number I can read and I have my kindle, but I really like taking lots of books on holiday with me...

See you in May unless I manage to check in tomorrow morning!

Apr 27, 2012, 5:34pm Top

Have a great time, Heather - take pictures!

Apr 27, 2012, 5:44pm Top

If you're anything like me, you'll probably have at least three times more books with you than you can possibly read in the time available. Have a lovely time! Are you going to Lee Abbey?

Apr 27, 2012, 5:45pm Top

Whew! No book bullets because I either already own the book and it is in my TBR or already on my WL. I am going to reread The Illiad before reading The Song of Achilles I think, and I am hoping to get to The Knife of Never Letting Go and Black Hearts in Battersea this coming month. But 60 books - wow! Look at you go!!

Apr 27, 2012, 6:15pm Top

Have a good time Heather.
I always take way too many books with me too, it is because of that comforting feeling when you have more than enough books around ;-)

Apr 27, 2012, 6:41pm Top

Have a great holiday, Heather!

Apr 27, 2012, 6:46pm Top

#42 and 44 - Have a great trip, and I promise not to hate you if I don't like Song of Achilles!

Apr 27, 2012, 8:30pm Top

Tuesdays with Morrie -- barf. The worst kind of American pop culture reading.
My copy of Song of Achilles arrived today too! I can't wait to read it but I'm saving it for Orange July.

Apr 27, 2012, 9:11pm Top

Have a wonderful time Heather!

Apr 27, 2012, 11:01pm Top

Have a lovely trip, Heather. I see we are going to try again in May to get Rose In Bloom read. I though it was great that I could fit it into Challenge #4, and use your name as well!

After seeing so many great reviews of Song of Achilles I am eagerly looking forward to reading it. The Knife of Never Letting Go is another one I want to get my hands on!

Apr 27, 2012, 11:36pm Top

Dropping by to say hello! Nice new thread!

Apr 28, 2012, 10:19am Top

Hi Heather!

I'm very impressed by how organised your thread is and like the idea of listing all the series you're reading.

The Brian Selznick book sounds and looks wonderful. I am very tempted but having bought that book, I think I've blown May's book budget before May's started!

Apr 28, 2012, 12:32pm Top

I'm only chiming in with good wishes for a great holiday, Heather. You have to take a lot of books. It's impossible to tell what you'll be in the mood for before you get there, and it doesn't do to go unprepared.
(Another cheer for Murder Must Advertise - I'm Whiffling all the way!)
(Song of Achilles is next up for me. YAY!)
(Dee, you have the only copy on LT so far of that book. Lucky old you!)

Edited: Apr 28, 2012, 1:52pm Top

Oh, I forgot to wish you happy holidays, Heather. I hope you have a great time, I love Exmoor.

56: Peggy, it is a very special book but at over thirty pounds (50 dollars?), probably only for the stupidly devoted. There are previously unpublished short stories, essays and letters from Elizabeth Taylor to other authors. It probably wouldn't be legal to photocopy and post people the parts of the book they were particularly interested in, but if there's anything in the book people would like to know more about, send me a pm :)

Apr 28, 2012, 3:05pm Top

Funny, I got The Enchanted April this month on an Audible sale, but didn't even make the link with "April" and that it might be a good month to read listen to it!

I too love your series list and want to adopt that on my own thread... but almost afraid to.

Have a great vacation Heather and see you again when you're all rested up!

Apr 29, 2012, 10:15am Top

This is a very impressive thread! Not only for the great pictures, love the reading in the rain picture and the lovely rainbow, but your reading is very impressive! You will be at 75 in no time!

Apr 29, 2012, 12:28pm Top

>59 ChelleBearss: What she said!

May 4, 2012, 10:35pm Top

Hi Heather - I hope you've been having a great time!

May 4, 2012, 11:02pm Top

Heather I hope you have enjoyed the atmosphere on Exmoor and that you are safely returned or enjoying still.

May 6, 2012, 3:31pm Top

Thanks Dejah, Genny, Mamie, Anita, Roni, Kerri, Laura, Pat, Judy, Porua, Dee, Peggy, Ilana, Chelle and Paul for the holiday wishes. We're back from a lovely week away in the village of Winsford in Exmoor. We didn't get flooded and we even got a couple of days of sunshine! It was a very quiet week with some good food and some good books which was just what we wanted. We also found a bookshop which has had a detrimental effect on my plans to buy fewer books this year. Perhaps I should invent a new rule to the effect that books bought on holiday don't count?

#46 Not Lee Abbey Genny, although I've been there before and it's also in a beautiful part of Exmoor. We stayed in Winsford, Somerset which is in the south east section of the park.

#46, 48 & 56 I'm reassured to hear that I'm not the only person who 'needs' to take so many books on holiday with me :-)

I have a few days left before I go back to work so I will try to post some photos and details of my book-haul but first I am going to try and catch-up with my reviews. I'm going to see if I can keep my comments briefer than brief and then the monumental task of trying to catch up with people's threads!

May 6, 2012, 4:09pm Top

April books

Book #61 Foundation's Edge and Book #62 Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov (3.5 and 2 stars respectively).

With these two books I have finally finished my read-through of Asimov's Robot, Empire and Foundation books in chronological (rather than publication) order (this achievement was what originally inspired me to list the series I was reading at the top of my thread above - you can see this series has now been listed under 'completed series'). Trying to explain how this series works is quite complicated and could probably fill a post by itself so I am just going to refer you to wikipedia to avoid boring the socks off everyone (or pm me and I will be happy to explain in more detail without promising to get it right). My understanding is that Asimov wrote several science fiction trilogies in the 1950s. Later, in the 1980s and 90s, at the request of his publishers and fans he wrote various sequels and prequels which tied the original trilogies into one overarching narrative.

My short review is that in general, I prefer the 1950s books and, in particular, I thought Foundation and Earth was the worst of the sequels I'd read. It has an almost identical plot to Foundation's Edge which didn't help but I also felt that it introduced a psuedo-deus ex machina plot device to explain all the preceding books which I found frustrating and disappointing. Only recommended for completists but I still think the original Foundation and Robot books are brilliant.

Book #63 Cold Earth by Sarah Moss - 3.8 stars

A book I bought in a kindle sale after reading some good reviews from other members in the group. A team of archaeologists are working on a dig in a very isolated part of Greenland at the same time as an unidentified virus has been reported in the news leading to a bit of a worldwide panic. After a few days, the group lose their email and internet contact and one member of the team starts hearing things at night. After a bit of a bumpy start I really enjoyed this psychological novel and the story and characters stayed with me after I'd finished it.

Book #64 A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor - 4.1 stars

I read this on the train travelling to and from the Elizabeth Taylor day in Reading and the talks that I heard must have really inspired me because I filled my notebook with scribblings about this book (and got some funny looks on the train - not only is that woman reading, she's writing about what she's reading too?!?)

There were parts of this novel which felt sublime: sentences that made me stop reading to gaze out of the window so that I could savour them before moving on. The more I read Elizabeth Taylor's writings the more admiration I have for her as an author. This is known as her darkest novel and I felt she portrayed the loneliness and hopelessness of her characters very well. Yet despite the brilliance, 4.1 stars is the lowest rating I've given to a Taylor novel so far: somehow, when taken as a whole, I thought something about the novel didn't quite work as well as her others. So perhaps, not the Taylor I'd recommend to start with but still a very good book.

May 6, 2012, 4:37pm Top

You have accomplished something I've always meant to do, in reading the Foundation books from start to finish in chronological order. You are right, originally the Foundation Trilogy was completely independent of the Caves of Steel trilogy, and I'm not sure conjoining them was a good thing. I've read both of those trilogies numerous times, and a number of the others a single time, but still have a couple unread, as well as the Post-Asimov Foundation trilogy by Brin, Bear, and Benford--have you read those? They are here in my tbr pile.

May 6, 2012, 4:41pm Top

Heather - It's good to hear your trip went well - and no flooding!

I, too, prefer the 1950s Asimovs, so much so that I've never gotten through all the rest. Your determination is to be commended!

Cold Earth sounds really good. I'm going to pick it up the next time I make it to the main branch of the library.

May 6, 2012, 8:11pm Top

Welcome home, Heather. Your quiet, scenic vacation with books sounds perfect to me!

May 7, 2012, 4:48am Top

Welcome back!

Edited: May 7, 2012, 5:14am Top

#65 Hi Roni. No, I haven't read the non-Asimov books in the series and I'm not currently planning to although I'll probably be guided further by your thoughts on the books once you get round to them. They seem to have quite mixed reviews on LT.

#66 Dejah, I hope you enjoy Cold Earth. I'd like to read Sarah Moss's second novel, Night Waking and will try and get that out of the library once I'm through with my current library books (I've fallen into the trap of taking out too many library books yet again).

#67 & 68 Thanks Pat and Porua :-)

Cracking on with more reviews - still in April:

Book #65 The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle - 3.5 stars

I think I've always preferred the earlier Holmes' short story collections - whether this was because Doyle was only reluctantly writing Holmes stories at this point or for some other reason I don't know. Still an enjoyable reread but not the best.

Book #66 American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens - 3.5 stars

An enjoyable travelogue of Dickens' experiences in the US and Canada during the six months he and his wife spent there in 1842. As you'd expect from Dickens it's full of his humour and his views on social issues including detailed descriptions of the hospitals, prisons and provision for the poor in almost every town he visits. Whilst the book starts in quite a jolly manner, Dickens slowly sounds more weary and bitter as the journey progresses. This may partly have been due to the effects of being almost constantly on the road (or river) for 6 months (I know I would have hated it) but it may also be the disillusionment Dickens suffered on finding that the New World was not the Republican utopia he had hoped to find.

At the end of the book Dickens launches into a blistering attack on slavery and the other perceived vices of North America which needless to say, didn't win him any friends in the US and lost him some of the friends he'd made upon his travels:

"Shall we whimper over legends of the tortures practised on each other by the Pagan Indians, and smile upon the cruelties of Christian men! Shall we, so long as these things last, exult above the scattered remnants of that race, and triumph in the white enjoyment of their possessions? Rather, for me, restore the forest and the Indian village; in lieu of stars and stripes, let some poor feather flutter in the breeze; replace the streets and squares by wigwams; and though the death-song of a hundred haughty warriors fill the air, it will be music to the shriek of one unhappy slave.

On one theme, which is commonly before our eyes, and in respect of which our national character is changing fast, let the plain Truth be spoken, and let us not, like dastards, beat about the bush by hinting at the Spaniard and the fierce Italian. When knives are drawn by Englishmen in conflict let it be said and known: 'We owe this change to Republican Slavery. These are the weapons of Freedom. With sharp points and edges such as these, Liberty in America hews and hacks her slaves; or, failing that pursuit, her sons devote them to a better use, and turn them on each other.' "

And to balance that, my favourite humourous quotation from the passage to North America from England:

"About midnight we shipped a sea, which forced its way through the skylights, burst open the doors above, and came raging and roaring down into the ladies' cabin, to the unspeakable consternation of my wife and a little Scotch lady - who, by the way, had previously sent a message to the captain by the stewardess, requesting him, with her compliments, to have a steel conductor immediately attached to the top of every mast, and to the chimney, in order that the ship might not be struck by lightning. They and the handmaid before mentioned, being in such ecstasies of fear that I scarcely knew what to do with them, I naturally bethought myself of some restorative or comfortable cordial; and nothing better occurring to me, at the moment, than hot brandy-and-water, I procured a tumbler full without delay. It being impossible to stand or sit without holding on, they were all heaped together in one corner of a long sofa - a fixture extending entirely across the cabin - where they clung to each other in momentary expectation of being drowned. When I approached this place with my specific, and was about to administer it with many consolatory expressions to the nearest sufferer, what was my dismay to see them all roll slowly down to the other end! And when I staggered to that end, and held out the glass once more, how immensely baffled were my good intentions by the ship giving another lurch, and their all rolling back again! I suppose I dodged them up and down this sofa for at least a quarter of an hour, without reaching them once; and by the time I did catch them, the brandy-and-water was diminished, by constant spilling, to a teaspoonful."

Edited: May 7, 2012, 6:11am Top

Oh Heather, I haven't dropped in for two weeks and I see you've been a very busy reader.
I remember very well that I didn't even rate Tuesday's with Morrie. It just didn't feel right, given the fact that it was about this guys life, I just didn't like the way it was presented.
Another big von Arnim fan here!
Glad to see you had a nice holiday in Exmoor. Not sure where it is, I assume somewhere in the UK so I'm off to Google Earth.
I want to read Song of Achilles but how to find the time?!

ETA: I think I've found it! Did you stay seaside or National Park? The area looks enchanted! One of these days when I'm hugely wealthy I'd love to spend a year in UK and discover it from coast to coast.

May 7, 2012, 6:10am Top

Book #67 Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick - 2.5 stars

From this year's Orange shortlist. This did absolutely nothing for me, whatever it was supposed to be about, I just didn't get it.

Book #68 The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - 3.5 stars

I'm starting to wonder whether I have just been too grumpy with the books I've been reading this month. This book has received rave reviews on lots of book blogs but although I enjoyed it, I wasn't as enraptured as a lot of others have been. It's a retelling/redevelopment of an old Russian fairy tale, The Snow Angel, about an elderly couple who are unable to have children so build a snow angel in their garden which comes to life to be their child. Ivey's version is good and I would definitely look out for any future books she writes but I didn't fall in love with it the way other people seem to have done.

The UK edition is a beautiful hardback and includes Arthur Ransome's The Little Daughter of the Snow which is (I believe) a translation of the original Russian fairytale:

Book #69 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - 4.6 stars

A reread of one of my favourites - my other 19th century reading has felt rather serious (and dry?) lately so it was wonderful to rediscover how much fun a good Wilkie Collins is. The story of the theft of the moonstone is narrated by several different narrators in turn and they all have such wonderful and distinct personalities. Without giving anything away, the solution is very much of its time, but I think that's partly why I enjoy it so much.

The Oxford World's Classics edition has a really good introduction and set of notes but don't read any of them unless you've already read the book. They include a lot of detail about how Collins structured the novel and rewrote drafts before publication which would give quite a few spoilers to someone who hadn't read the book before.

Book #70 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark - 3.75 stars

It took me a little while to get used to the writing style but I enjoyed this and think it would only improve on rereading.

And that's April!

May 7, 2012, 6:17am Top

#70 Hi Lynda, thanks for stopping by. I'm (not-so-)secretly relieved to hear that there are others who also didn't enjoy Tuesdays with Morrie :-) Exmoor is in the south-west of the UK, it's one of our national parks along with (off the top of my head) the Lake District, the Peak District, the New Forest and Dartmoor. I've found a link to a mini-tourist guide here which has some nice pictures.

I know what you mean about Song of Achilles - so many books, so little time...

May 7, 2012, 6:53am Top

#64 - I'm very impressed by your Asimov accomplishment! I agree that the original trilogy is best, but I may have enjoyed Foundation's Edge a bit more than you. At the moment, I can't remember a single thing about Foundation and Earth, so I'm guessing your rating is spot on. I still have some of the earlier robot/empire books to get to...some day.

May 7, 2012, 6:53am Top

Wow! It's the ancient Roman forts and the "astonishingly preserved medieval villages" that would intrigue me. Thanks for the link!

May 7, 2012, 7:30am Top

I'm glad you had a good holiday, Heather. One of my grandmothers lived in Devon and I have wonderful memories of Exmoor and Dartmoor from childhood holidays.

I think The Snow Child struck a chord with me because I'd recently been dwelling on the facts that my children are getting older and that I certainly wouldn't be having any more. The wife's childlessness seemed very poignant to me as a result but I might have perceived it differently if I'd been in a different mood.

May 7, 2012, 10:34am Top

Hi Heather, I can relate to the April Showers picture. May showers here today; just managed to sneak in a fairly dry walk between downpours.

I'm glad to see more Song of Achilles love. I'm due to get it soon from the library - along with The Snow Child. Both books are out of my usual comfort zone, but I'm working on expanding my range!

It was good to see you in the Reading pictures. That looked like a fabulous gathering. My first E. Taylor book is waiting for pickup at the library. Angel is the only one I can get easily. If I like it, I'll try and get her other books through ILL.

May 7, 2012, 11:47am Top

Hi Heather, glad to hear you had a wonderful vacation. Thanks for the link to the Exmoor brochure, it does indeed look like a very special place.

I loved both quotes from the Dickens book, and also appreciated your review of The Snow Child. I'd been wondering if I might want to read that book, but I think I'll just leave off it and make room for something else instead. On the other hand, The Moonstone was already on my wishlist, but I wasn't in any great hurry to get to it, thinking it couldn't be quite as good as The Woman in White, but you make it sound mighty appealing. Just checked, and the one copy they have of it at the library is a 1961 edition!

May 7, 2012, 4:49pm Top

#64 Just discovered your thread again after noticing I'd been ignoring it by accident. I read Cold Earth last year and enjoyed it a lot but found the ending a bit unsatisfactory. I've got her next one sitting on the shelf.

May 7, 2012, 6:44pm Top

Wow, Heather, you did have time to read on holiday. Thanks for your excellent comments. I have a couple I'll add to my wishlist. I have Foreign Bodies from the library right now, but I haven't heard much enthusiasm about it... Maybe I should pass on it.

May 7, 2012, 6:56pm Top

Hi, Heather. Sensation novels should never be left out of the equation of 19th century literature. In my ongoing pursuit of the earliest detective novels, I'll be indulging in a little Mary Elizabeth Braddon soon - her first novel, The Trail Of The Serpent, seems to be considered a proto-detective novel. You'd be welcome if you cared to join me. :)

May 8, 2012, 6:46am Top

#73 Well I'm thrilled to hear that so many of you are impressed by my Asimov accomplishment - it had felt like it was taking me forever to make my way through that series.

#74 Glad you enjoyed it Lynda - Gennyt has some good photos of Dartmoor (another UK national park) on her thread from her last week away. The south west of the UK is a beautiful part of the country.

#75 Dee I often feel frustrated by how much my mood affects my enjoyment of certain books. It might also have been that my expectations were too high from reading so many rave reviews; I liked it but it didn't sweep me up like Song of Achilles did.

#76 I hope you enjoy your book picks Donna and thanks for the nice comments about the photos.

#77 Oh dear, I have that slightly worried feeling that comes from having put someone off a book. I thought the Snow Child was by no means a bad book, but with our wishlists and TBR piles growing out of control, I can completely understand passing over books that you're not sure about.

I think The Moonstone isn't quite as good as The Woman in White but it's pretty close in my opinion. The Moonstone is more of a detective/whodunnit novel than The Woman in White which I think of as more of a gothic/mystery. The only library copy is from 1961?!

#78 Hi Rhian - I'll be interested in your thoughts on the latest Sarah Moss.

#79 Beth, I was so behind with comments that most of the books above were from before my holiday! I've been following the comments on Foreign Bodies over in the Orange group and it seems people either feel a bit 'meh' about it like me or really enjoy it so it might be worth a try to see if you're one of the lucky ones who do get it!

#80 Hi Liz. I would definitely be interested in joining you for The Trail of the Serpent. I will need to get hold of a copy though - when were you thinking of starting? My reread of The Moonstone has also prompted me to go back to an earlier Wilkie Collins I've had sitting on my shelves for a while - Basil (which I can only say in the manner of a bad Fawlty Towers impression) which should fit nicely into this month's TIOLI garden challenge.

I also wanted to ask whether you'd read The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (or Charles Warren Adams) which Sutherland mentioned in the introduction to The Moonstone?

May 8, 2012, 8:31am Top

Hi Heather, just catching up and also looking ahead to end of next week when we'll be meeting up in London and going to hear Hilary Mantel in the evening. I'll be arriving on the train at 12.54pm (Kings Cross). Will you be there in time to meet up for lunch? We did talk about perhaps going to see the exhibition in the BL, what do you think?

May 8, 2012, 8:47am Top

I'm so impressed by your completion of your Asimov project!

Beautiful writing about Taylor too.

May 8, 2012, 10:23am Top

Wish I was joining you ladies in London - with or without Mdm Mantel. Have a lovely meet-up.

May 8, 2012, 12:43pm Top

So jealous of the Mantel event and meetup!

May 8, 2012, 1:04pm Top

I'm not coming to the Mantel reading, but I hope to meet the two of you for lunch.

May 8, 2012, 1:39pm Top

Glad that your vacation has been wonderful, that you got in some good reading (I'm not about to start any Isamov beyond the original trilogy!), and I beamed at the Dickens quotes. I've been lax, so it was good to see the old fellow represented here!
The current Newsweek has a couple of pages on Mantel and *Bodies* this week. You guys get each other and Mantel and London!!! WOW!!!! Enjoy for all of us.

May 8, 2012, 5:55pm Top

So behind, but stopping down here to let you know I dropped by.

May 8, 2012, 6:44pm Top

Hi, Heather. I own a copy of The Notting Hill Mystery, and it's on my shortlist TBR. I don't have any particular plans yet for The Trail Of The Serpent but it will be within the next month or two, I expect. I've read a number of Collins' lesser-known works but not Basil, so I'll be interested to see what you think. (The garden challenge - brilliant!)

May 8, 2012, 11:44pm Top

Hi Heather, your trip sounds wonderful. I read a book last year called Blacklands that was set in the Exmoor area, and before I knew it I was googling Exmoor. The book was a rather dark one about a child killer, but the setting was fascinating and after seeing pictures I can see what a beautiful area it is!

May 9, 2012, 2:40pm Top

#82 & 86 Hi Genny and Luci - I'm looking forward to it :-) I will be there at 12:54 - haven't decided yet whether I will go into work for the morning but I'm leaning towards having a lie-in! Lunch sounds good and I'd also be happy to go round the new British Library exhibit (and *ahem* buy a book I've had my eye on from the BL bookshop). Luci, are you free for the afternoon or just lunch? Would you like to see the BL exhibit or do something else?

#83 Thanks Lucy.

#84 Wish you could join us too Paul. I'm sure you would greatly add to the general hilarity of the occasion and make us feel restrained in our book buying by comparison :-)

#85 Sorry Laura :-(

#87 Re Asimov, that's probably wise Peggy.

#88 Thanks Mamie. I think I've caught up on a grand total of 3 threads since getting back... Still, hopefully a quiet weekend coming up.

#89 Ok, it actually works out cheaper to order a copy from the US so I will do that. It's described as 'exuberantly campy' - sounds fun!

#90 Hi Judy. I've seen people mention Blacklands and deliberately decided not to read it before going away in case I got too scared...

May 12, 2012, 7:47am Top

Finally caught up here -Whew! In reading your comments on The Snow Child, I know just what you mean. I rated it a bit higher than you, but It was exactly what I was in the mood for when I read it. I think the biggest thing is that it could have used some additional editing - it's a bit long and drags in places.

I liked your review on The Moonstone and added it to my WL. I have The Woman in White in my TBR, and I need to get to that this year.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

May 12, 2012, 5:05pm Top

#92 Hi Mamie. I think if you enjoy The Woman in White you will also enjoy The Moonstone. They're quite thick books but the stories are quite gripping so they read relatively quickly.

We have had some sunshine this weekend! I went for a walk this afternoon which is part of my attempt to combat the depression I've been feeling for the last month or so. I'm also going to try going to the cinema more regularly - I went to see the new Avengers Assemble film with my friend over the Bank Holiday weekend which was a lot of fun. I'm procrastinating over going to the doctor to ask them to increase my medication which may be slightly foolish but I feel very reluctant to start tinkering with the medication and associated side effects that my body has got used to in case coping with a higher dosage of medication is actually harder than coping with feeling more depressed. Of course, the counter-argument is that if I increase the dosage early enough and it nips any downward spiral in the bud then I won't need to cope with feeling more depressed whereas if I leave it too late then I might have to cope with both.

Anyway, books!

Book #71 Revelation and Book #72 Heartstone by C. J. Sansom - 4.5 and 4 stars
Source: Waterstones.com and gift from a colleague
Original publication date: 2008 and 2010

Two lovely Matthew Shardlake books that I took with me on holiday. Revelation is easily my joint favourite of the series so far along with Sovereign and follows Matthew Shardlake trying to track down and stop the person responsible for a series of truly grisly murders which all seem to be based on the book of Revelation. Heartstone has a slightly slower pace and I'm still not sure whether it suffered due to being read straight after Revelation. After finishing the two books I would happily have started on the next in the series straight away... but for the fact that Mr Sansom hasn't written it yet!

Book #73 The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters - 4.1
Source: Charity bookshop
Original publication date: 2009
Category: Orange Prize (longlist, 2010)

A gripping and ambiguous ghost story that also touches on class resentment in post-WWII Britain. Sarah Waters' latest novel seems to have received mixed reviews but I really enjoyed this suspenseful, spooky story and the ending was, for me, absolutely spot on. As with the other Sarah Waters' novels I've read so far, I'd like to reread this now that I know how it ends to see what else I would pick up on in a second read.

May 12, 2012, 5:20pm Top

#93 - So sorry to hear about the depression/medication issue. I hope you get some relief soon.

The C.J. Sansom books sound interesting. Until recently, I didn't realize that historical mysteries are a thing. I might plop them on the wish list.

Take care!

May 12, 2012, 5:25pm Top

Book #74 Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby - 3.3 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date: 2009

This month's selection for my reading group and I enjoyed Nick Hornby's brand of dark humour and take on modern life and relationships. There didn't seem to be much substance to this book but it felt like there was supposed to be more to it.

Book #75 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - 5 stars
Source: Reread
Original publication date: 2009

Well, this has been absorbing most of my reading attention for the last week but it was certainly worthwhile, although I'd remembered this being an amazing novel, I was once again bowled over by the smoothness of Mantel's prose and the fascinating way in which she portrays Thomas Cromwell. Once again, reading this has made me want to find out more about Thomas Cromwell and this turbulent period but I will probably read the sequel, Bring up the Bodies before trying something like Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister from the library.

So now a double celebration is in order because I've read my first 75 books this year and I'm up to date with reviews! :-)

May 12, 2012, 5:29pm Top

Heather: Feel better. Congratulations on 75. I've been looking at the Waters book and think I may try it. Wolf Hall is sitting on my "read next" pile. It sounds wonderful. I love historical novels, and I haven't heard too many negative things about this one.

May 12, 2012, 5:32pm Top

#94 Thanks Kerri. The C. J. Sansom books are very good - I hope you enjoy them. Getting hooked on historical mysteries can be dangerous though, there are so many good series to read! C. J. Sansom has also written a standalone historical fiction, Winter in Madrid, set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War which I have had in my TBR pile for far too long. I'm hoping that having run out of Shardlake books to read will make me pick it up!

May 12, 2012, 5:39pm Top

#96 Thanks Beth. If you like historical fiction then I think it's definitely worth trying a Sarah Waters novel. So far 3 of her books, Affinity, Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet, have been set in Victorian England, one, The Night Watch has been set in London during WWII and The Little Stranger is set in Warwickshire just after WWII.

Wolf Hall is very good, I hope you enjoy it. My tips for reading it are don't be afraid to refer to the family trees and list of characters and to remember that if Mantel uses 'he' then 99% of the time she's referring to Thomas Cromwell. Took me a while to realise that on my first read but I think it helps.

May 12, 2012, 8:05pm Top

Thanks for the tips, Heather. I think I have Fingersmith somewhere on my shelves. Do you have a Walters you prefer?

May 12, 2012, 8:23pm Top

Good job on hitting 75 already, and hitting it with Wolf Hall is a good way to go! I have that one on my wishlist still ...

Edited: May 12, 2012, 10:27pm Top

Wow - 75 already! Congrats! You hit me with several books - adding the Shardlake series and Wolf Hall to the WL. The Sarah Waters also sounds interesting...thinking about it...

*edited to send a PM

May 13, 2012, 2:57am Top

Sorry to hear about the depression situation. Hope you feel better soon. :-)

May 13, 2012, 3:06am Top

Congratulations on hitting 75 books. Feeling pleased that I've already read several of your recent reads so my tbr pile isn't taking too much of a hit today. Winter in Madrid is very good, my problem is that I've only read two Sharlake books so must get on to the rest of the series.
I hope you sort out the medication issues, hopefully with the transition to summer you might find a natural high kicking in as well.

May 13, 2012, 3:27am Top

Congratulations on reaching 75! I'm also tempted to reread Wolf Hall before the sequel - I loved it last time.

May 13, 2012, 7:37am Top

Congratulations on 75 and on reading Wolf Hall! I'm really looking forward to the sequel. I'm reading the Tudor period right now though with the second C.J. Sansom, Dark Fire. I need a mystery fix right about now.

May 13, 2012, 7:46am Top


May 13, 2012, 8:33am Top

Congratulations on the 75 Heather.

So sorry to hear about the depression. {{{Hugs}}} and take care of yourself.

May 13, 2012, 8:41am Top

Congratulations on reaching 75! Yay! And I do hope you get through this rough patch.

May 13, 2012, 9:26am Top

#99 Beth, so far I've read Fingersmith, The Night Watch and The Little Stranger; they've all been good but I think my favourite is The Night Watch.

#100 - 108 Thanks Chelle, Mamie, Porua, Kerry, Susan, Laura, Jim, calm and Lucy.

I've remembered that I still need to post some holiday pictures:

Our cat, Erica, trying to ensure she didn't get left behind:

Some reading material unpacked at the cottage:

Photos of the area:

May 13, 2012, 6:24pm Top

Lovely photos of Exmoor, and the stowaway Erica!

I'm sorry to hear about the depression, and uncertainty about medication - I hope you come to a decision that feels right for you, and that you feel better soon.

But congratulations on managing a re-read of Wolf Hall in time for the sequel - and on making that your 75th book!

I'm hoping to read Heartstone this month, then I too will be caught up with the Shardlake series. I have also recently picked up a copy of Winter in Madrid so will be interested to see Sansom writing in a different mode.

May 13, 2012, 8:45pm Top

Heather - I am loving your photos and cannot decide which is more charming - Exmoor or your kitty snuggled up in your suitcase! What is the building in the bottom photo?

May 13, 2012, 9:09pm Top

Heather - thanks for the lovely photos of Exmoor, makes me long for the old country if truth be known, especially the two shots which look like country inns!

I am also an admirer of Sarah Waters and didn't agree with the mixed reception The Little Stranger received as I thought it was top notch if not quite as good as Fingersmith.

Congratulations for passing 75 already.

Edited: May 14, 2012, 10:05am Top

Hi Heather, congratulations on 75!! I love the photos of Exmoor, too!

Enjoyed your comments on Wolf Hall; I have to get to this one, hopefully over the summer. I've also been curious about Hornby's Juliet, Naked, and appreciate those remarks. And then there are the Samson books, which I've yet to get to. Our mantra here on LT, as someone else just noted: So many books, so little time!

Yours is a dangerous thread for me : ).

May 14, 2012, 10:05am Top

Let me add my congratulations on hitting the 75 book mark!

May 14, 2012, 10:07am Top

Congrats and beautiful holiday photos!

May 14, 2012, 10:08am Top

Congrats on making it to 75 so soon, Heather! Looks like a stellar reading year so far.

May 14, 2012, 2:21pm Top

Congrats on reaching 75, Heather! Thanks for sharing your holiday pictures too - it looks like a beautiful area!

May 14, 2012, 6:37pm Top

Your holiday pictures are beautiful, Heather. Exmoor looks like the perfect place to go for a ramble followed by a nice pub dinner and then home to your books.

Congratulations on reaching your 75th book!

May 14, 2012, 6:40pm Top

Heather: Wonderful pictures. Congrats again on 75, and I hope you are feeling better.

May 15, 2012, 10:26am Top

And I'll add my somewhat envious congratulations on reaching 75, too. (Just finished #28 so 75 remains a real challenge for this reader.) Loved the photos of your cat and Exmoor!

May 15, 2012, 3:50pm Top

#110 Thanks Genny. Erica's attempt to stowaway was foiled in the end - which is a good thing as she'd have been very unhappy away from her home territory. My mum very kindly took over Erica duties while we were away. Erica is a bit wary of my mum when Dan and I are around but is apparently very affectionate when we're not (cupboard love etc.)

#111 I will pass on your compliments to the kitty Mamie! The building in the bottom right photo is the Exmoor White Horse Inn in Exford. I'd heard very good things about it but we were actually a bit disappointed with the food and service when we visited (although they may have just been having an off day). The pub in the photo next to the bedraggled sheep is the Royal Oak in Winsford and the food and service there were wonderful (we went there three times in a week!) Part of the building is from the 12th century although I think these parts were all internal walls but the rest is 16th century (I think).

#112 Hi Paul! We made sure we sampled some good local ale and cider whilst we were there :-)

#113 Oops, sorry Nancy!

#114 - 117 Thank you Roni, Kerri, Mary and Joe :-)

#118 Hi Judy. I think our activities were skewed more towards sitting and eating or reading but I did manage to get out for a couple of walks... which reminded me how unfit I have let myself become! Might try and remedy that before we go somewhere else where there are so many lovely walks!

#119-120 Thanks Beth and Stephen.

In reading news, I've finished book #76, Basil by Wilkie Collins which I enjoyed although it's one of his very early works and I think is quite a way off being as good as The Moonstone or The Woman in White. I will try to write up some more detailed comments later this week. I'm currently reading quite a few different books but prioritising Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding which is due back at the library in a couple of days and not-renewable.

And I have some book acquisitions to confess to in my next post....

May 15, 2012, 4:15pm Top

Right, so going back to April before we went on holiday I was in a book-buying mood (I know, I know - there are other moods?) so I wandered into our local charity book-shop and picked up:

The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson

Then, when we were in Exmoor we visited the village of Dunster which has a lovely castle, church and a book-shop!

This was a treasure-trove and had lots of lovely old editions of classics and Folio editions as well as a good range of newer paperbacks. We walked out with:

A folio edition of Robert Graves' The Greek Myths (it was so hard to decide on a folio edition but this was one we both liked and was also affordable. There were lots which weren't affordable that we tried not to drool over too much)
Big Money by P. G. Wodehouse
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - Oxford World's Classics edition as a replacement for my battered, cheap copy
Talking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern - possibly a first edition from 1943?
and some green Virgaoes:
The Gipsy's Baby by Rosamond Lehmann
Harriet Hume by Rebecca West

Then, when we got home there was a copy of Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale which I got through Waterstone's cardholder programme for review (about halfway through it at the moment).

Then (listing them like this is making me realise how bad I've been this month - the shame...), a couple of books I'd listed on my bookmooch wishlist but had never expected to see listed by anyone popped up... so I grabbed them:

The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers
Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers

And finally, I succumbed to the kindle daily deal yesterday and downloaded Love, Sex, Death and Words: Surprising Tales From a Year in Literature by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender


May 15, 2012, 4:33pm Top

Love the photos of Exmoor and some great books gained and going to a good home. I also have been acquiring books lately so must fess up on my thread when I get some time. I'm a fan of the Folio editions.

May 15, 2012, 8:31pm Top

76 books under your belt - fantastic! And gorgeous pictures!!! Looks like you had a lot of perfect weather!!!! And BOOKS!!!!!
I do hope all of this is lifting your spirits more than a little. Pet Erica (and Dan) and feel well, dear friend.
I wish that I had reread Wolf Hall - or even some of it before starting *Bodies*. I am now canceling everything I said about its not being as good as *Bodies*. When I read a little (of *WH*) today, it was very much the same, and I loved what I read. I even found an instance or two of "he, Cromwell." So I don't know what was wrong with me 3 years ago when I read and respected but didn't love *WH*. Let me be firm: I'm loving *Bodies*.

May 16, 2012, 4:35am Top

Heather, I also succumbed to the Daily Deal and bought Love, Sex, Death and Words and I'm reading my chapter a day. Interesting, but nothing amazing so far.

May 16, 2012, 6:09am Top

Congrats on reaching 75! The Dunster bookshop sounds wonderful! I'm so jealous of you! :-)

May 16, 2012, 6:15am Top

Heather, so much to respond to!
Three cheers for reaching 75 76 books!!! I wish I had your reading stamina.
The pics from Exmoor are charming!!!! I could stare at them for hours. I like the way you display your vacation reads. Mine usually stay in a drawer til I'm ready for them. I think I'll display from now on.
Great book hauls and hurray for you to re-read Wolf Hall!
Hugs. Depression is such a bummer! Hope cuddling your gorgeous kitty helps a little bit.

May 16, 2012, 12:42pm Top

>109 souloftherose:: Such lovely pictures, Heather. I'm glad you had plenty of books to read to keep you company on holiday!

I am currently reading Heartstone and concur that it is a slower book than most of his others. Still very good. Like you, I'm contemplating a stand-alone Sansom until a new Shardlake book comes out. I'm gonna miss the little guy! Btw, my cover has the flower in color and looks a lot like the cover of your Wolf Hall. I like these covers that remind me of souloftherose!

Adding my congrats for having read 76 books! Have fun at another(!) meetup. I listened to Ms. Mantel on an NPR interview. I love her way of talking about her books. So intimate.

May 16, 2012, 4:25pm Top

#123 Thanks Kerry. I've been told by my husband that I'm not allowed to get too fond of buying Folio editions. Given the number of books I buy I think it's a fair point.

#124 "Looks like you had a lot of perfect weather" Actually, it was one of the wettest weeks we've had so far this year but I made sure I got a lot of good photos on the one day when the sky was blue and the sun shone! I didn't mind the rain - it gave me a good excuse to curl up with some tea and a book rather than feeling like I ought to be making the most of the good weather which is an age-old British obsession.

Thank you for your kind words and I'm so glad you're enjoying Bring Up the Bodies. My copy finally arrived today and it's beautiful! It's been a struggle not to pick it up straight away but I have 50 or so pages of Painter of Silence to read first

#125 Hi Kerry. It looked like the sort of book that would be good to dip into but not one to read in chunks. I was idly wondering whether their piece for each day relates to that day or whether it's fairly arbitrary.

#126 Both a thankyou and a sorry to you, Porua.

#127 Thanks Lynda - it was actually my husband's idea to turn the windowsill into an impromptu bookshelf. And it was just the right size! Thanks for the hugs. Kitty accepts strokes but not cuddles - she's very definite about that.

#128 Hi Donna. I've seen that cover of Heartstone and I think I probably do prefer it slightly to my grey one. I was planning on a proliferation of Tudor roses this month and even managed to sneak in my own TIOLI challenge to put all the books under :-)

In other news, I did go to the doctors and we have increased my medication. In fact, I couldn't see my normal doctor but the doctor I did see was much nicer and less scary so I think I might carry on seeing the new one! Already, I feel quite a bit better and slept better last night - almost certainly too soon for it to be the medication but after having dithered about what to do for the last week or so it was such a relief to get it over with.

And I finished a book on the train today:

Book #77 The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey - 3.6 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date: I can't find this anywhere but I think 2010

A very unusual and gentle read; Elisabeth Tova Bailey was forced to spend a very long period lying flat on a bed due to a sudden and mystifying illness which affected her immune system. One day a visiting friend brought her a plant from her garden along with a small snail she'd happened to see. Forced to lie and do nothing all day (she couldn't even read), Elisabeth became more and more engrossed in the daily routines of her small companion and as she slowly recovered from her illness she started to read up on snails and their habits. The resulting book is a series of reflections on life and illness and a commentary on the habits of her snail companion.

I've never really liked snails but I feel like I've gained a new appreciation for them and I was particularly relieved to hear that the horrible crunch I sometimes hear on a wet day when I wasn't paying enough attention to where I was walking doesn't necessarily mean the end of the particular gastropod I've accidentally trodden on. I've probably knocked a couple of points off my rating because I felt the author anthropomorphised her snail a bit too much for my liking.

May 16, 2012, 4:55pm Top

A great review. I've added it to my wish list (and that's saying something because I'm *really* strict about adding too many books)

I can't wait to hear what you think of Painter of Silence, it's on my list too - after all the books you leant me!

Oh, and I finished Neverwhere - very good, though perhaps a little dark for me, I think I prefer comic fantasy, but not too comic, there has to be a balance... Terry Pratchett for sure, selected Tom Holt, but not Ian Rankin. Anyone else I should look out for?

Glad you went to the docs, hope you feel better soon.


May 16, 2012, 10:52pm Top

Heather not sure the amount of vicarious pleasure derived from the book-buying exploits of our friends is entirely healthy but I certainly enjoyed news of your purchases and dreamed longingly for a trip through that door in Dunster!

May 16, 2012, 11:08pm Top

Heather - I'm so glad that things are looking better for you. Thanks for the info concerning the photos - now I know which pub to visit should I ever find myself in Exmoor. (Which I would absolutely LOVE) Where I really want to go is into that bookstore! I did not know what Folio editions were, and so I looked them up, and it was slightly embarrassing because they made me drool a bit. Luckily, I was unobserved!! Hope today was a good one.

May 18, 2012, 2:32am Top

Hi, Heather - had another thinking of you moment - that conversation we had about The Heart Of Midlothian and women keeping secrets from their husbands.

I've started The Leavenworth Case, which early on states the conventional 19th century view:

I took my way slowly upstairs, revolving in my mind many things, among which an admonition uttered long ago by my mother occupied a prominent place: "My son, remember that a woman with a secret may be a fascinating study, but she can never be a safe, nor even satisfactory, companion."

I guess Mrs Raymond wouldn't much care for Jeanie Deans. :)

May 18, 2012, 6:50am Top

Glad you had a good time in Exmoor - it's one of my favourite places in the U.K. We also do the book display thing as well. Once I've got the books unpacked I feel like I can really settle down to my holiday. But given that my son's an avid reader as well we seem to have more and more books that we need to take. Last couple of summer holidays we've been driving, so no weight restrictions and have just taken a cardboard box full. This year we're flying so we'll need to be a lot more restrictive.

I've got The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating sitting on the TBR shelf since Christmas. I really must get round to it - I've heard such good things about it on LT.

May 18, 2012, 9:05am Top

Hi Heather: As Paul says, it is so much fun to see what books others buy. I'm glad you saw your doctors. Take care of yourself.

May 18, 2012, 9:24am Top

Hi Heather - hope you have a great meet-up today, looking forward to hearing about the Hilary Mantel talk:)

Pleased you found a sympathetic doctor and hope that everything is going well for you.

May 19, 2012, 4:40pm Top

Hello Heather, just checking in after getting back home half an hour or so. I hope you got back safely last night and were not too tired after all that walking!

I managed to meet up with my god-daughter ok and we visited the Persephone bookshop, so there were more memories of last year's meet up there. And after we separated following lunch, I headed over to the Oxfam bookshop in Bloomsbury and made up for all my earlier restraint by buying another 5 (or was it 6?) books there. One of them was a nice hardback copy of Wolf Hall, so I've already got my matching set!

May 19, 2012, 5:05pm Top

It must be nearly a year to the day since our meet-up - I'm really glad you two did it again! How was the talk? And Heather, I'm glad you went to the doctor and are feeling better.

May 19, 2012, 7:17pm Top

My! I had much catching up to do here! Congratulations on reaching your 75 so soon—we may have done so around the same time. I had help this year reading several poetry collections. ;-)

Loved your comments on Wolf Hall. I'll be tackling it for a second time in June with Suzanne tutoring me because I didn't make it past 100+ pages the first time. I'm so tempted to get Bring Up the Bodies because of the cover alone! Will wait till I've completed the first book before I make that purchase though.

Loved the photos of your vacation in Exmoor. Looks absolutely lovely; I'm glad you had a great time. For a moment, I did think you'd taken Erica with you! Great picture of her in the suitcase.

Good thing you found a doctor you like. I think it's normal feeling better as soon as you've made a change with the meds; doing something to improve one's situation usually does make a difference in mood. I hope for your sake it's a lasting improvement.

Have to tell you I'm a little bit annoyed right now. I didn't know what Folio editions were of course, so went searching and found out soon enough. I'm sooooo tempted by that new edition of The Handmaid's Tale. I've read it twice and loved it both times and the illustrations are so beautiful... then I actually considered getting a membership because their books are so irresistible, but this is ridiculous, because I've just told myself a week ago that I can't be spending all kinds of money what with Coco needing a big intervention on his teeth which will cost a small fortune. But when I get a bee in my bonnet about making a purchase, it rarely let me be. I haven't actually purchased anything. Yet. There's little likelihood of finding these editions in used book stores on this side of the pond, which is a justification I've been using to rationalize getting the Atwood book... Oh my.

I hope you'll be posting pics of your get-together yesterday! And soon!

May 19, 2012, 8:39pm Top

Obviously your meet-up would have gone great - trust that the rest of your weekend goes great and that your health is fine. btw why do we continue to go to doctors that intimidate us and are unfriendly - stick with the new one Heather.

Edited: May 20, 2012, 8:52am Top

The meet-up on Friday was really good although I felt like a zombie yesterday due to tiredness! I met up with Genny and Luci for lunch at Albertini's near the British Library (very reasonably priced and very tasty) and then we went on to the new Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands exhibition which ' explores how the landscapes and places of Britain permeate our great literary works'. I thought it was really interesting and very well laid out. The exhibition was split into different landscapes and featured a good range of well-known classics, modern novels and quite a few I'd never heard of (who knew that Arthur Conan Doyle had also written a suburban romance?)

Then we had a tea break and a small snack before Luci had to say goodbye and Genny and I decided to walk to the Southbank Centre for the Mantel talk. Everything was aching by the time we got there but hearing Hilary Mantel talk about Bring up the Bodies was sufficient reward. I can't remember the name of the person interviewing her but he said that he was the chair of the Booker committee the year Wolf Hall won the Booker award. Then we queued to get our copies of Bring Up the Bodies signed which Ms Mantel did with a smile and a very nice, almost calligraphic signature.

I don't have any photos but Genny has a few on her camera...

About the books, Luci had very kindly brought along a huge bag of duplicates which Genny and I very politely divided up between us and I also bought one book from the British Library bookshop:

The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (pseud. Charles Warren Adams) - recently republished by the BL and possibly the first detective novel. The BL edition is very nice and includes the original illustrations by George du Maurier (grandfather of Daphne, author of Trilby)

From Luci I got the following

That Lady by Kaste O'Brien (a VMC author in a lovely old Penguin edition)
Loving and Giving by Molly Keane (another VMC author)
Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr - lovely old Puffin edition
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey

ETA: I don't know how I forgot to mention this but we bumped into another LTer in the queue to get our copies of Bring Up the Bodies signed - the lovely rebeki from the Club Read group who recognised Genny and I in the queue.

May 20, 2012, 7:52am Top

Here's a picture of Heather and Luci at our lunch at Albertinis - with the piles of books Luci'd brought for Heather and I to share.

More pics over on my thread shortly.

May 20, 2012, 8:01am Top

Sounds like a marvellous day:)

May 20, 2012, 8:39am Top

#130 Hi Jo! Thoughts on Painter of Silence coming soon - I think it's worth reading.

Sorry the Gaiman was a bit dark. I've been thinking about books to recommend that could be described as comic fantasy: this wikipedia article gives some suggestions although the only ones I've read are the E. Nesbit books. The first in the series mentioned, Five Children and It should be available for free for the kindle.

So suggestions:

Jasper Fforde

I think he's brilliant. A bit more surreal than Pratchett but a similar sort of humour. He's written 2 books so far in a young adult trilogy which I reviewed in above. The first is The Last Dragonslayer.

There's also his Nursery Crimes series of which the first book is The Big Over easy which is a crime book set in Caversham Heights in Reading where Jack Spratt has to investigate the death of an egg-shaped character called Humpty Dumpty (I did say surreal).

Then there is his most well-know series featuring a literary detective called Thursday Next. The first book The Eyre Affair features a lot of references to Jane Eyre and I think it would probably spoil the ending of Jane Eyre if you haven't read it - I'm also not sure how much sense The Eyre Affair itself would make if you haven't read the original. Most importantly, this series is set in an alternate Swindon!

Diana Wynne Jones

Wonderful children's author - although none of her books are what I would describe as comic fantasy, there is a strong sense of humour lurking underneath a lot of her books.

Ones I found particularly light-hearted/fun:

The Ogre Downstairs
Archer's Goon
The Magicians of Caprona
The Lives of Christopher Chant
The Pinhoe Egg
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is a tongue in cheek, parody of fantasy in general

Other suggestions:

The Princess Bride by William Goldman - before the film there was a very good book
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis - technically science fiction, this is a fun time travel adventure back to Victorian England (references Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome but I don't think you need to have read the Jerome to enjoy this). can be hard to find in the UK though.
Soulless by Gail Carriger - paranormal urban fantasy romance which is normally a sub-genre I avoid but this I thought this series was very funny
Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer - whimsical 19th century alternate history Jane Austen-esque - again, difficult to get hold of in the UK
The Accidental Sorcerer by K. E. Mills - I haven't read this but it looks like it might be funny?

Humourous books with a noir/hard-boiled feel (think Raymond Chandler)

Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series: Storm Front is the first book - a Private Investigator who is also a wizard based in modern day Chicago - I can't decide whether I like this series but it has a lot of fans. There's quite a bit of violence though
Malcolm pryce's Aberystwyth sereies: Aberystwyth Mon Amour is the first book - another Private Investigator set in an alternate Aberystwyth where there are druids for mafia etc. I think this series is pretty good

Other humourous books:

Definitely not fantasy but Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome and anything by P. G. Wodehouse are probably worth a try.

I've also found this thread in the Fantasy Fans group which has quite a few other recommendations...

May 20, 2012, 8:40am Top

I've added The Notting Hill Mystery to my wish list. I am hoping that my library purchases the British Library version. I'd love to see those illustrations. I see the Kindle version is only $2.99, but I'm sure it lacks those.

May 20, 2012, 8:46am Top

Heather: It sounds like your meeting was fun. I'm adding some of your fantasy suggestions to my list -- I don't read much of it. I do like Jasper Fforde. The Notting Hill Mystery sounds fun. So, what's next?

May 20, 2012, 9:21am Top

#131 Thanks Paul! I'm another person who gets vicarious pleasure from other people's book hauls :-)

#132 Thanks Mamie.

#133 Hi Liz. Thank you for mentioning The Leavenworth Case. I was struggling with my current kindle read so I decided to switch to The Leavenworth Case instead after you mentioned it. Much better!

#134 Hi Rhian. My husband and I both noticed that we took as many books on our 6 day holiday as we took on our 10 day holiday last year. I would really have to be strict with myself if we went somewhere we needed to fly to.

#135 & 136 Thanks Beth and calm :-)

#137 Glad you managed to meet up with your god-daughter Genny and revisit the Pesephone shop. Did you buy any Persephones? I am jealous of your matching Wolf Hall/Bring Up the Bodies set!

#138 It was really good Cushla. We missed you and Katie but especially Janet. I am still dreaming of the day when I can a) afford the plane tickets to NZ and b) persuade my 6' 5'' husband that sitting in a plane for that long is a good way to start a holiday!

#139 Ilana, I am so sorry to have thrown so much temptation in your way!

I do hope you enjoy Wolf Hall when you read it with Suzanne. I'll definitely be following along with your tutored read because I learn so much from the others I've read, even where I thought I knew quite a bit about that particular author or book (your Persuasion read is a good example of that)

#140 Thanks Paul - maybe we think that if something's unpleasant it must be good for us?

#142 Thank you Genny.

#143 It was :-)

#145 Hi Lori. I hope you can get hold of a copy of The Notting Hill Mystery. I saw the kindle edition too but it wasn't from a publisher I recognised so I wasn't sure what the quality would be like.

#146 Hi Beth. I hope you enjoy some of the suggestions. Next on the reading pile is Bring Up the Bodies which I'm halfway through and is very, very good.

May 20, 2012, 10:03am Top

I have to add Wild Snail Eating pronto to my wishlist!

May 20, 2012, 6:22pm Top

Hi Heather,
Three Men In a Boat is one of my very favorites.
Perhaps I'll have to give To Say Nothing of the Dog a try. Do you know JKJ's book On the Stage -- And Off? One of the funniest books about theatre I've ever read.

May 20, 2012, 11:00pm Top

Hi Heather - I'm trying to get caught up on your thread! The meet-up and exhibition sound like they were lovely. We have a decent number of literary events in my area, but I never seem to have time to attend. That must change.

Also, I really should read Wolf Hall at some point. I've read so many wonderful comments about it on LT.

Edited: May 20, 2012, 11:24pm Top

Heather, you more than made up for the temptation you exposed me to with that link you gave me. You don't know how pleased I was by it! The Atwood should be coming my way within a couple of weeks I imagine! :-)

Very happy you had a nice meetup. I would have loved to be there.

eta: I absolutely LOVED Three Men in a Boat when I read/listened to it last year. Definitely a book I'll be revisiting in future. To Say Nothing of the Dog is on the tbr...

eta2: I'll be happy to have you over on the Wolf Hall thread. Don't be shy to comment on the Persuasion thread either whenever you feel so inclined.

May 21, 2012, 12:38am Top

Sounds like a wonderful day out in London and you got to take home books, always a bonus.

May 21, 2012, 8:00am Top

Books and LibraryThing friends...an unbeatable combination. I loved that you also met Rebeki in the Mantel queue. It is a small world after all!

May 22, 2012, 5:10am Top

#148 Hope you enjoy it Lucy!

#149 Hi Stephen. Hope you enjoy To Say Nothing of the Dog. Talking about that and Three Men in a Boat has made me want to reread both of them. I haven't read any Jerome apart from his Three Men books; I will certainly look out for On the Stage and Off?

#150 Hi Kerri. Yes, do read Wolf Hall!

#151 You're more than welcome Ilana :-) Have you tried Jerome's follow-up to Three Men on a Boat, called Three Men on the Bummel? The same characters go on a cycling holiday to Germany; it's not quite as good as the first book but it's still worth a read.

#152 & 153 Books are always a good thing.

May 22, 2012, 5:48am Top

Hi Heather, What a great meet up! Not only books but Mantel as well. I'm just a little jealous. Also, so serendipitous that you should see another LTer. Looking forward to your thoughts on Bring up the Bodies

May 22, 2012, 6:56am Top

#155 Hi Lynda. I finished Bring up the Bodies last night and thought it was superb. Thoughts to follow a bit later today.

The increase in my medication is leaving me feeling a little bit like a zombie at the moment, although I'm no longer the uncontrollably weeping woman which is a good thing! I seem to be struggling to enjoy certain types of books though and I think I might need to temporarily abandon my Elizabeth Taylor reading amongst other things because I cannot get into A Game of Hide and Seek and although I normally do force myself to keep going with books, it seems such a waste with an Elizabeth Taylor novel.

Anyway, some books I have read:

Book #76 Basil by Wilkie Collins - 3.25 stars
Source: Bookmooch
Original publication date: 1852
Category: British 19th century fiction

Although Basil is far from being one of Collins' best novels, I enjoyed it a lot; partly because I enjoyed thinking about this as an early example of Collins' writing and an early example of a Victorian sensation novel and partly because I really enjoyed the over-the-top melodrama of this story.

Basil is the youngest son of an English gentlemen of large fortune, one of the most ancient families in the country. We are told how proud Basil's father is of his pedigree and his family name; it's no surprise then that when Basil falls in love at first sight with Margaret Sherwin, the daughter of a linen-draper, he feels unable to tell his father of his plans to marry her. Basil decides that it will be best to present his father with a fait accompli, to marry Margaret, then somehow get her introduced to his father and wait for his father to get accustomed to her before informing his father that they are married. Margaret's father agrees, as long as Basil marries Margaret straight away, and promises for the first year of their marriage, never to see her except in the presence of a third person: they will be married but will not live together as man and wife.

The outcomes of this marriage are betrayal, insanity and death. Technically, I suppose those are spoilers but if a secret marriage wasn't enough to tell you that things aren't going to end well, there is a lot of rather heavy-handed foreshadowing in the first half of the novel. Basil was considered to be very shocking when it was first released and for a early Victorian novel there are a lot of sexual undercurrents in this work. To a modern reader, it's unlikely to be anywhere near as shocking, so it's a testimony to Collins' skill as a writer (albeit that his skill shows unevenly throughout this early work) that the central and pivotal scene in the book is still disturbing.

Book #77 reviewed in message 129 above.

Book #78 Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding - 3.8 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date: 2012
Category: Orange Prize (shortlist 2012)

Set in post-WWII Romania, this contender for the 2012 Orange Prize, is a quiet story about two friends who grew up together in a small village. Safta is the daughter of a wealthy family living in a big house with servants and Augustin, born deaf and dumb, is the illegitimate son of their family cook. Separated before the war, Augustin manages to track Safta down to a hospital where she works as a nurse in the city of Iaşi in Romania. The story goes back and forth between the time Augustin and Safta spend together after the war to their childhood and experiences during the war. Augustin has always loved to draw and as the story develops, Harding does a good job of showing what that ability means to him as a way to communicate and make sense of the outside world.

This was a good book but I don't think I was in the right mood to appreciate it as much as it deserved.

May 22, 2012, 7:34am Top

Hello Heather, I love the holiday photos and the one of you and Luci plus books!

I am also feeling zombie-like at the moment (thought it was just tiredness but am now feeling horribly viral) so can relate to the necessary reading adaptations. Do you think your depression could be hormone related? I'm prone to the uncontrollable weeping thing at the same time every month!

May 22, 2012, 8:32am Top

Hi Heather, I thought I'd come over and catch up on your thread properly. You're a fast reader and popular, but I shall try my best to keep up!

I'm glad to see you enjoyed The Song of Achilles and without having read The Iliad first. I decided I'd push myself to read the latter first and it's far more enjoyable than I anticipated (now I've found an accessible translation), but I'm getting very impatient to start on The Song of Achilles, so maybe I'll read them in parallel. I need to get on with it, as I'm also itching to re-read Wolf Hall and read Bring up the Bodies - I look forward to your comments on the latter.

Great holiday photos! Did you get through all those books? We're having a week's holiday in Norfolk in June, which should, I hope, give us some extra reading time, even with a baby in tow. I keep planning and re-planning what to take, even though one or two books will probably suffice!

May 22, 2012, 9:27am Top

Hi Heather: You have done some great reading lately. Basil sounds interesting; your excellent review captures perfectly the points that would interest me. Painter of Silence also sounds great. Take care; I hope you start to feel better soon.

May 23, 2012, 8:11am Top

>144 souloftherose:
Woah there! That's enough to keep me going for a year or more! I've added a few to my wishlist...

Hope you're feeling a bit less zombie-ish. Will be in touch again soon.

May 23, 2012, 10:48am Top

Hi Heather! I enjoyed your reviews of Basil and Painter of Silence. Painter of Silence is one I'd like to try, but I can definitely relate to not being in the right mood to appreciate a particular novel.

May 23, 2012, 11:15am Top

Whew, Heather! I am finally all caught up! Lots of good stuff here.

Glad you meet up went well, but sorry about the feeling like a zombie. The Writing Britain exhibit sounds fascinating - topping that off with the Mantel talk, purchase of The Notting Hill Mystery (which sounds interesting), and lunch and conversation with LT friends seems like a perfect afternoon.

Love all your suggestions in post 144. I am wanting to read The Last Dragonslayer, but sadly it is not available in the US yet. Would also like to read The Princess Bride and Three Men in a Boat. My husband is a big Jim Butcher fan, and so we have all of his books. Humorous with a noir feel is such a great description of the Dresden Files series!

Two very nice reviews - Painter of Silence sounds like one I should add to my WL. So glad you liked Bring Up the Bodies - I will have to try to squeeze in Wolf Hall sometime this summer.

Hope today is kind to you, and that you are enjoying the day. Your thread is one of my favorite places!

May 24, 2012, 1:38pm Top

Have you seen the latest Kindle sale? For some reason it includes various books about the Tudors as well as lots of 20th century social history and The Library Book - I've just learned that Alan Bennett went to my old school and to two libraries I used to use in Leeds from his essay, which is great.

May 24, 2012, 2:35pm Top

The reason for all the Tudor books on sale might have to do with it being close to the anniversary (May 19, I think) of when "Henry VIII helped his wife Anne Boleyn finally get rid of her migraine headache" as some wit on Twitter put it.

May 27, 2012, 7:56am Top

#157 Hi Dee. I wondered if the way I was feeling might be hormone related but it's been that way for 6 or so weeks now so I don't think it can just be that. Then I thought it might be pre-holiday exhaustion, then post-holiday blues...

I hope you don't end up coming down with something.

#158 Hi Rebecca. No we didn't read all the books :-) I think I got through about half of mine but I also managed to do quite a lot of catching up with Clarissa Harlowe (although I've got behind again now). I'll look forward to your thoughts on The Iliad; reading Song of Achilles has really made me want to try the original but I don't have a copy and I should really read some of the books I own before buying any more! Which translation are you reading?

#159 Thanks Beth.

#160 :-D

#161 Thanks Kerri.

#162 Hi Mamie. Yes, I forgot to mention The Last Dragonslayer isn't published in the US until the end of his year. Normally his books are published in the US and the UK at roughly the same time but his young adult series seems to have quite a delay for some reason.

" Your thread is one of my favorite places!" Aw, thanks!

#163 I hadn't Luci, so thanks for letting me know. I feel reasonably saturated with book acquisitions at the moment but I noticed it doesn't end until 7th June so I expect I'll succumb and buy at least The Library Book next month. How great that Alan Bennett used to use the same libraries you used to?!

#164 :-) I wonder if there's a royalty theme due to the Jubilee too?

May 27, 2012, 9:40am Top

#165 I'm definitely going to read The Last Dragonslayer. I bought it for my son a little while ago and read the first couple of chapters when I was in a cafe the same day waiting for a friend. Somehow his adult books have never quite appealed - but this looked good fun.

#163,165 I succumbed to The Library Book already!

May 27, 2012, 3:10pm Top

#165: Heather, it's good to hear you're still reading Clarissa. I have struggled to keep up to date but I'm caught up now.

The Kindle sale is excellent! I have bought The Library Book... and some others. 1-click is a bad invention for people with no willpower!

May 27, 2012, 10:52pm Top

Heather, I hope you're doing better and feel less zombie-like. It may not be much of a consolation, but I can certainly empathize, having been there more times than I care to remember...

Must say I was selfishly glad to see you have a hard time getting into A Game of Hide and Seek, because, while I'm soldiering on with it, I can't say I'm much taken by it either. Too bad, because it's my first Elizabeth Taylor novel, but I'll try others to be sure, Angel is on my shelves and I intend on reading that one this year.

Wishing you well my dear.

May 27, 2012, 11:09pm Top

Heather - just dropping in to say that I hope your weekend was lovely!

May 28, 2012, 10:42am Top

What Crazymamie said!

May 28, 2012, 7:09pm Top

Caught up...for today.

What an astonishing amount of reading you do. I'm only at 40, so I've a long way to go. But then I get distracted by LT and just read threads...

Looking forward to some year reading Basil; your thoughts on what appeals would be mine as well.

Hope the blues will be defeated by the medication...or as my family says, "Better Living Through Chemicals". I really, really enjoyed the time I spent here today.

Edited: May 29, 2012, 7:14am Top

#166 I hope you enjoy The Last Dragonslayer Rhian. I downloaded the sample for The Library Book and thought it looked really good but I am going to hold off buying it until next month...

#167 "1-click is a bad invention for people with no willpower!" - Isn't it?

#168 Thanks Ilana. I have almost completely abandoned A Game of Hide and Seek (for now, anyway). I can't tell if it's just my funny moods or whether I just don't like this particular ET novel. I found the teenage romance almost excruciating to read; very accurately portrayed but I don't like being reminded of how it felt to be a teenager!

#169 & 170 Thank you Mamie and Roni :-) My weekend was ok I think; the highlight was a batch of American-style blueberry pancakes; I haven't made any before but they turned out pretty good. We don't get blueberries very often so it was a bit of a treat.

#171 Hi Gail. "Better Living Through Chemicals" - I like it :-) Thanks for stopping by.

So, mood wise, I still feel a bit wobbly but I seem to have coped pretty well with the last week and have done quite a lot of cooking and baking recently so perhaps I'm doing better than I think I am? I'm still struggling with reading a little bit so I've put my reading plans on hold (and trying somewhat unsuccessfully not to feel guilty about this) and I've just been picking up whatever seems to suit my mood.

But anyway, books finished in the last week or so:

Book #79 Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - 5 stars
Source: Waterstones.com
Original publication date: 2012

Every bit as good as everyone else has said it is; I think this could be read as a standalone novel but why would you not want to read Wolf Hall first?

Spoilers if you don't know what happens to the Tudors

Where Wolf Hall, which ended with the death of Thomas More, showed Thomas Cromwell's steady rise to power, Bring Up the Bodies shows him at the pinnacle of his power as he manoeuvres to bring Anne Boleyn down. But of course, we, the readers, know how the story ends even though Cromwell himself doesn't and I think Mantel works on that to give Bring Up the Bodies a palpable sense of menace: we know that when you're at the top of your game the only way to go is down. It's superb and I will be more than happy to reread both this and Wolf Hall when the final part of the trilogy is released.

Book #80 The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katherine Green - 3.5 stars
Source: Girlebooks
Original publication date: 1878

This has been called the first American detective novel, however it seems that's probably not quite true and Liz (lyzard) has written an excellent post here explaining why. But Anna Katherine Green may have been the first author to develop the series detective (assuming you don't count Edgar Allen Poe's Auguste Dupin stories which were published in the 1840s) as she wrote several series featuring different detectives. The Leavenworth Case is the first in a 12 book series featuring Ebenezer Gryce, a New York detective:

"And here let me say that Mr. Gryce, the detective, was not the thin, wiry individual with the piercing eye you are doubtless expecting to see. On the contrary, Mr. Gryce was a portly, comfortable personage with an eye that never pierced, that did not even rest on you. If it rested anywhere, it was always on some insignificant object in the vicinity, some vase, inkstand, book, or button. These things he would seem to take into his confidence, make the repositories of his conclusions; but as for you—you might as well be the steeple on Trinity Church, for all connection you ever appeared to have with him or his thoughts. At present, then, Mr. Gryce was, as I have already suggested, on intimate terms with the door-knob."

Mr Gryce, though, takes something of a back seat in this story which is narrated by the young lawyer, Everett Raymond, who is called in to provide advice and assistance to Mr Leavenworth's young and beautiful nieces after Mr Leavenworth has been found shot, sitting at his desk in his study. It transpires that the house was locked up for the night and there are no signs of forced entry leading to the shocking conclusion that it may have been someone inside the house who did the deed. Evidence is produced at the inquest which even more shockingly seems to point to one of Mr Leavenworth's nieces as the killer leading Raymond Everett to declare that he will clear the young lady's name by any means necessary (I had to wonder at this point whether he would have been as easily convinced of the lady's innocence if she hadn't been quite so beautiful).

It's a fairly melodramatic story but one which I enjoyed a lot until the solution which seemed to come out of nowhere. So, 3.5 stars and recommended for anyone who likes early detective stories like the Sherlock Holmes tales but be aware that the writing style is quite different.

May 29, 2012, 7:08am Top

Book #81 Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones - 4 stars
Source: Abebooks.co.uk
Original publication date: 1997

Rupert Venables is the youngest Magid, so when his mentor Stan dies it's Rupert's job to find a replacement. Fortunately Stan has left him a list of possible names but unfortunately every single person on the list proves almost impossible to track down and the Koryfonic Empire on another world which is also one of Rupert's responsibilities has fallen into civil war and are desperate for Rupert to help them find the next emperor.

To solve the Magid replacement problem Rupert decides to interfere with the fatelines of the possible candidates and arranges for them all to attend a science fiction convention in Wantchester, which just happens to be situated on an ancient power node, so that eh can observe them all. Of course, as this is a Diana Wynne Jones book, things don't go exactly as Rupert plans and when the Koryfonic Empire really starts to go into meltdown, all the different balls Rupert's trying to juggle look like they're going to come crashing down...

Gently humourous and not really taking itself too seriously, this is, I think, the first DWJ book I've read that's not aimed at children or a young adult audience. The only difference this seems to make is that slightly more people die than in her other books in more gruesome ways but it's far from being a dark or gritty book and her writing style doesn't otherwise seem to be any different from her other books. I don't think it's her best but I enjoyed this and have the sort-of sequel, The Merlin Conspiracy, to read soon.

May 29, 2012, 10:22am Top

I've only read each of those once (Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy) and so don't remember them that well, but agree that they are not her best, but that makes them better than lots of others!

Sounds like your reading has been coming along quite respectably, in spite of everything. And baking too? Girl, you are putting me to shame!

Edited: May 29, 2012, 12:33pm Top

#174 "Girl, you are putting me to shame!" Pshaw - not unless I start throwing pots, making jewellery and gardening too!

Yep, even a less brilliant DWJ is still very enjoyable.

I was thinking of you earlier today as I've just started reading Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart which I think you recommended to me way back when. :-)

May 29, 2012, 12:34pm Top

Oh, I'm sure I did!!!! Enjoy!!!

May 29, 2012, 12:45pm Top

Hi Heather, Bridge of Birds was a favorite read of mine last year, enjoy!

May 29, 2012, 2:49pm Top

Hello Heather,
de-lurking to say hello, and gosh, I have missed a lot on your thread recently.

May 29, 2012, 2:56pm Top

OK - so I really need to get to Wolf Hall! Your review of The Levenworth Case makes me want to read it; I'm wondering if it is difficult to get ahold of. I have not read any Diana Wynne Jones, but I'm thinking that my kids have - did she write Howl's Moving Castle? Oh, the touchstone says yes!! What would you recommend by her?

Hope you are having a lovely Tuesday, by the way.

May 30, 2012, 4:08pm Top

#176 & 177 I am - thank you :-)

#178 Hi Megan, thanks for stopping by :-)

#179 Hi Mamie. Yes, read Wolf Hall!

The Leavenworth Case is out of copyright so you can download a free copy to an ereader if you have one (I can't remember whether you have or not). Otherwise there's a Penguin Classics edition which seems a bit pricey given the length of the book but perhaps the library might have a copy?

I would recommend anything by Diana Wynne Jones! :-)

More seriously, Howl's Moving Castle is good and her most well-known book (which may be because there was a film adaptation). I also love the Chrestomanci series which the author herself recommends reading in this order starting with Charmed Life, although most of them could be read as standalones.

Some of my other favourite DWJ books that would be good ones to start with are Dogsbody, Archer's Goon and The Ogre Downstairs.

My Tuesday was good thanks. Had a slightly frustrating day at work today as after having spent two days working on something, I realised that there was a much easier and quicker way to do it. I was going to try and catch up with some more reviews but I'm tired so I'm going to curl up with Bridge of Birds.

May 31, 2012, 5:10pm Top

Fair comments on The Leavenworth Case, Heather (and yes, the "she's beautiful so she must be innocent" argument is more than a little exasperating), although looking at it from an historical perspective there are a number of very interesting things about it.

In addition to being available for download, The Leavenworth Case has had several modern reissues so you might get lucky at a library, Mamie.

May 31, 2012, 6:20pm Top

Thanks, Heather and Liz!

I do have a Kindle, so I was able to download it for free - LOVE that! I favorites your post above about the Diana Wynne Jones books so that I can refer back to it. Thanks for taking the time to post that.

Hope you are enjoying your current read and that work is going better. AT least tomorrow's Friday!

May 31, 2012, 7:38pm Top

Heather, I couldn't come this way without speaking. You're baking and reading - sounds great to me!

Jun 1, 2012, 9:47am Top

#172 - Oh good grief. I suppose I'm going to have to read Wolf Hall soon as well, possibly next month. I was planning to read it next year, but I want to read at least 6 of the soon-to-be-announced Booker longlisted books and if Bring Up the Bodies is one of them, I'd like to be prepared.

Jun 1, 2012, 11:03pm Top

Thanks so much for the info. on DWJ, Heather. I have Howl's Moving Castle around here somewhere...keep hearing good things about her...must get to her soon.

And aren't Mantel's Cromwell books marvelous? I wish she could immediately produce 3 more, to round off the story of Henry. They're so interesting!

Jun 2, 2012, 7:43pm Top

Glad to see you loved Bring up the Bodies! I just brought home Wolf Hall today and I'm third on the hold list for Bring up the Bodies

Jun 2, 2012, 10:30pm Top

*must get on to Wolf Hall asap*

Jun 4, 2012, 10:15am Top

#181 Thanks Liz. For anyone who's interested, Liz has written a much more in-depth review of The Leavenworth Case on her thread here. A note of warning though: spending time on Liz's thread can lead you to all kinds of obscure and hard-to-find books (don't blame me, in other words) :-)

#182 Yay - glad you could get hold of a copy Mamie. I will never stop loving paper books but e-readers are brilliant for older books that would otherwise be expensive to get hold of.

#183 Hi Peggy. Thanks for stopping by.

#184 & 187 Chants "Read Wolf Hall. Read Wolf Hall."

#185 You're welcome Gail. I felt slightly guilty buying my hardcover of Bring Up the Bodies because I have 3/4 of her older books in my TBR pile including her much lauded A Place of Greater Safety which is set during the French Revolution (none of her other books are historical fiction as far as I know). I have that one tentatively lined up for this month.

#186 Hope you enjoy them both Chelle.

Just in case anyone hasn't seen this, Suzanne (Chatterbox) is tutoring Ilana (Smiler69) through Wolf Hall on this thread. Lurkers are welcome and I think there will be intermissions when lurkers can delurk and ask their own questions about what's been read so far. As always with the tutored reads I am in awe of how much the tutor knows about the subject!

Jun 4, 2012, 10:28am Top

Had a bit of a bumpy bank holiday weekend so far for various reasons: I think I'm about 6/7 reviews behind and I'm going to try and make some attempt at those tomorrow. I've finished Bridge of Birds which was very good and I'm currently reading the following:

Time to be in Earnest by P. D. James - autobiography/essays in diary format - very interesting
The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon - early sensation/detective novel (I think)
The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart - sequel to Bridge of Birds, for something a bit lighter.

Jun 4, 2012, 10:55am Top

Hi, Heather! I started Wolf Hall, and I am loving it so far - I'm about 100 pages in. I am following the tutored read and it is fascinating stuff. I am learning a lot! Sounds like you are on a roll reading wise. Hope that this week is kind to you and that you get some time to yourself to just relax.

Jun 4, 2012, 1:39pm Top

Knew you would love Bridge of Birds--isn't it neat how everything turns back on itself?

Jun 5, 2012, 7:18am Top

#190 So pleased to hear you're enjoying it Mamie.

#191 Yes, at first it seemed quite random so I thought it was very clever the way he tied everything together at the end.

Right, reviews of books finished in May (still):

Book #82 Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale - 3.9 stars
Source: Waterstones.com for review
Original publication date: 2012

In Mrs Robinson's Disgrace Kate Summerscale brings us another account of intrigue and betrayal in Victorian England; no murder this time but plenty of adultery, divorce and madness.

The background to this account is the change in the rules surrounding divorce which occurred in 1858. Before this new law the divorce process itself was far too expensive for anyone other than the very rich upper classes to be able to afford - a marriage could only be dissolved by an Act of Parliament. With the new 1858 law the process was simplified and became affordable for the middle-class. A new court was set up to dissolve marriages, The Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes although proving the grounds for a divorce was still difficult. A man had to prove his wife had been guilty of adultery, a woman had to prove her husband had been guilty of two matrimonial offences: she had to prove he had been unfaithful and that he was also guilty of desertion, cruelty or sexual misdeeds such as bigamy, incest, bestiality, rape or sodomy.

One of the first cases to be heard by the new court was the case of Henry and Isabella Robinson. Henry Robinson was petitioning for divorce on the grounds of his wife's adultery. His proof: her diary. In the book Summerscale describes the diary as 'detailed, sensual, alternately anguished and euphoric, more godless and abandoned than anything in contemporary English fiction' but the use of someone's diary as evidence against them was an unprecedented one. What the court had to decide was whether her diaries contained a true account of the events that took place or whether they were the deluded writings of an unstable mind.

The first half of the book covers the period leading up to the trial and Summerscale attempts to piece together what happened between Isabella Robinson and Edward Lane, the man with whom she was accused of having an affair, as well as to paint a picture of Isabella's unhappy marriage using extracts from her diary. The second half of the book covers the trial itself and the arguments used by the prosecution and defence lawyers as well as the final verdict.

The parts I found most interesting were the side matters Summerscale had to explain so that the trial and its proceedings made sense. Victorian views on sex and sexuality for both men and women, insanity, women's health and the science of phrenology all made for some fascinating reading. I also enjoyed the sections where Summerscale touches on the potential influence of this trial in the contemporary literature of the period: both in novels that feature diaries by authors such as Wilkie Collins to the portrayal of dissatisfied wives in the sensation novels of the 1860s.

I really enjoyed this and found it very helpful in understanding the background to novels published in the years following this case but I'm not sure whether this book might come across as a bit dry to someone who's not already interested in the period.

Jun 5, 2012, 7:29am Top

That's a great review, Heather. I definitely want to read this one. I liked The Suspicions of Mr Whicher but this sounds even more my kind of thing.

I hope your Bank Holiday weekend has improved. It seems to be going on forever!

Edited: Jun 5, 2012, 7:45am Top

Hi Heather, sorry to read about your bumpy bank holiday weekend. Hope things are now looking up.
Summerscale's book looks rather intriguing although I doubt it will be at my library. Interesting how many books are written where women go insane after an affair. That alone will keep my on the straight and narrow.

ETA: OMG! I can get a ILL for Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace. Now, just to find the time for it!

Jun 5, 2012, 8:57am Top

#193 Thanks Susan. I haven't read The Suspicions of Mr Whicher before but managed to get hold of a copy secondhand this week and I'm really looking forward to it.

#194 Yay - hope you enjoy it Lynda.

Slight spoilers Mrs Robinson didn't go insane as a result of the affair but her lawyers tried to argue that she was insane when writing the account of it in her diary. Basically, they argued that the affair in her diary was just a delusion she'd had, possibly caused by a uterine disease according to medical theories at the time. But the uterine disease was thought to be caused by sexual frustration among other things so it's a similar thought process - if women didn't conform to the sexual rules of the time then they ran the risk of going mad!

I think things are looking up today. It's a bank holiday in the UK for the Diamond Jubilee - probably going to have a quiet day today but went to see Snow White and the Huntsmen at the cinema yesterday with a friend before enjoying the Jubilee Concert on the TV last night.

Some more reviews - I feel like I should say that these books were all read when my brain was not at its best so I think I probably didn't appreciate them as much as they deserve and I also don't feel like I have anything particularly illuminating or helpful to say about them...

Book #83 Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis - 3.7 stars
Source: Bookmooch
Original publication date: 1987

The story revolves around the research assistant of a American Civil War novelist and a girl he meets and falls in love with who has been having strange dreams. Very strange dreams - in fact they seem to be Robert E. Lee's dreams. The was a very unusual read but I enjoyed it and even shed a few tears at the end. I found some parts a bit confusing although it's entirely possible that this was due to my almost complete lack of knowledge regarding the American Civil War (I had never heard of Robert E. Lee or his horse, Traveller, and for the first third of the book I thought he'd fought on the same side as Lincoln...) and a general lack of brain. Also, why Lincoln's Dreams?

I suspect if you're American, or know something about the American Civil War or make the effort to look it up on wikipedia as you read, then this would make a lot more sense!

Book #84 A Strange Disappearance by Anna Katharine Green - 3.3 stars
Source: Girlebooks
Original publication date: 1880

This is the second detective novel written by Anna Katharine Green featuring her New York detective, Ebenezer Gryce. Everett Raymond, the protagonist from The Leavenworth Case doesn't make an appearance in this story, instead we follow 'Q' a young man who was introduced in the first book as a master of disguise and an expert in shadowing people. These skills come in handy in A Strange Disappearance where, as the title suggests, Ebenezer Gryce is asked to investigate the very strange disappearance of a young sewing girl from the house of Mr Holman Blake. Mr Blake and his housekeeper both appear to be behaving rather strangely given the circumstances so Mr Gryce asks Q to shadow Mr Blake to see if he can discover anything which relates to this case. What Q discovers is very shocking and seems to indicate that the case of the missing girl may be linked to an even greater and more serious crime.

For some reason I liked this slightly less than The Leavenworth Case although I'm not sure why. I'm still enjoying this series though and looking forward to reading the next book.

Jun 5, 2012, 10:01am Top

Heather, three very nice reviews. I love the cover of the first book Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace. I think I want to read the second book Lincoln's Dreams. Robert E. Lee has a fascinating story - he was actually asked by Lincoln to lead the Union Army during the Civil War, and Lee in fact wanted the United States to remain united. But he could not bring himself to fight against his home state, and so when Virginia seceded from the US, Lee chose to fight with the Confederacy and eventually became the leader of their troops. During the war, his home was seized by the Union and is now known Arlington National Cemetery. His horse, Traveller, was an iconic part of Lee's image and there is an incredible statue of Lee astride Traveller in Gettysburg - I have a photo of it from when we took the kids there. I'll see if I can dig it up for you.

Jun 5, 2012, 10:34am Top

Enticing review of Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, Heather. I love the cover of that one, too.

Jun 5, 2012, 11:18am Top

Hi Heather - Mrs Robinson's Disgrace sounds good - I liked The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.

Lincoln's Dream doesn't sound like one for me though I did read Richard Adam's Traveller - the American Civil War from the POV of the horse:)

Jun 5, 2012, 5:58pm Top

Hi Heather, catching up again.
I must make some time for Bridge of Birds and I'm hoping to read Diana Wynne Jones' Reflections this month, just have to finish my current nonfiction read.

Jun 5, 2012, 6:18pm Top

I'm just amazed at how far behind I am on your thread!! So sorry!!

re: From thread one, LShelby quoted, "Dee and I are the last two women in the world not to have watched any *Downton Abbey*?" And said, Apparently not, since I haven't watched any of it either.

Well I hadn't heard of it til I read your thread today Heather, so ... guess you're all in the lead!!

re: Brooks. I enjoyed March because of the glimpses into the era that Brooks gave us. I didn't enjoy it because I hate their theology!! LOL However, the first person didn't bother me I guess -- I absolutely don't remember that. I gave it to my book friend here. She adored it, so I'm guessing the POV didn't bother her either.

That said, Year of Wonders has been in my top reads of the year both times I've read it. Incredible. Still need to get ahold of People of the Book!

I'll come back (soon!) and read thread 2 :) LOL Blessings!

Jun 5, 2012, 7:08pm Top

These are good reviews - all of books I haven't heard of, including, somehow or other the Willis. It does seem a curious title, the way you explain it. No clues, then?

Jun 5, 2012, 7:36pm Top

Heather: Nice reviews. I'll add Anna Green's and Kate Summerscale's to my list. I liked very much The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, and Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace sounds like another winner. What's next?

Jun 5, 2012, 9:17pm Top

Heather, I definitely loved Lincoln's Dreams, but I seem to need to reread it. I didn't question the title at the time, but now I don't know why. Lincoln did apparently dream about his own death - seeing his body lying in state as he came down the stairs in the White House. I'll have to look back.

Jun 6, 2012, 7:44am Top

Hi Heather - Great reviews! I am hoping to read Connie Willis soon. I'm thinking Doomsday Book, (but so many pages!) Is that the best place to start?

Jun 6, 2012, 2:51pm Top

Ooh - visitors!

#196 Hi Mamie. Thanks for the background information on Robert E. Lee. After reading Lincoln's Dreams I do feel a lot more interest in reading about Robert E. Lee; I thought it portrayed him as someone who had tried to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances.

#197 Thanks Nancy. I was thrilled to get an ARC from Waterstones (UK bookstore) for review so the cover on my edition is nowhere near as nice but I'm happy to overlook that in return for getting a copy of the book! :-)

#198 Thanks calm. I hope you enjoy Mrs Robinson. Traveller sounds interesting although I'm quite wary of reading books told from the POV of animals for some reason. Having said that I really enjoyed both of the Watership Down books so perhaps I should reconsider that statement...?

#199 Sus - lovely to see you!

Downton Abbey fever seems to have died down a bit now on LT (replaced by Game of Thrones I think). It's a British TV programme by Julian Fellowes about the inhabitants (servants and upper class) of a large country estate in Yorkshire in the 1910s. Kind of soap opera-ey but well done - good escapism! It's been shown in the UK and the US - I don't know if you can get it in France?

I'd definitely still like to try Year of Wonders and People of the Book; I thought Brooks' writing was good but I couldn't cope with Mr March!

#201 & 203 Thanks Lucy. The book did mention Lincoln's dreams about his death but I can't recall any other clues about the title. It may have just been that 'Robert E. Lee's Dreams' wouldn't have the same impact or there could well have been something I missed...

#202 Thanks Beth. What's next? Hmm, I've nearly finished The Trail of the Serpent (which I've really enjoyed) - I don't know whether to finish The Story of the Stone after that or to keep that as my comfort book and start something else a bit more daunting?

#204 Hi Kerri. I think Doomsday Book is a good place to start; it's been my favourite book of hers so far. It's long and I know some people found it quite slow-going but I was so gripped by the story and the characters that I didn't notice.

Right, off to get some non-LT jobs done this evening.

Jun 6, 2012, 2:59pm Top

Just waving hello from freezing cold Wellington. Really liked your latest batch of reviews, as usual. Hope you're getting lots of non-LT jobs done!

Jun 6, 2012, 3:49pm Top

Hi Heather, just passing by in a rush, but stopping to say Hi

Jun 6, 2012, 9:41pm Top


Jun 6, 2012, 9:45pm Top

Heather just popped by to say hi - the Anna Katherine Green series looks a keeper.

Jun 6, 2012, 11:06pm Top

Glazing past A Strange Disappearance, obviously. :)

Glad you're enjoying the Braddon - so am I!!

Jun 7, 2012, 6:54am Top

Hi Heather. Can't believe I've never found your thread before! Being relatively new to LT I do still tend to get a little overwelmed by the number of threads I'd like to read, but now I have discovered what a treasure trove yours is, I shall be checking in regularly!
I'm very excited about Bring Up The Bodies, but might wait till it comes out in paperback.
I noticed your list of Sci-Fi masterworks to tackle this year. Not all the names are known to me, and there's a few on that list I should definately read myself, but I would heartily recommend The Stars My Destination as a great fun read, and Stand On Zanzibar as a stunning work of literature.

Jun 7, 2012, 9:58am Top

Just stopping in to check on you - how is your week going? Tomorrow is Friday!! I am loving Wolf Hall - you were so right!

Jun 7, 2012, 10:47am Top

Hi, hope you're ok Heather.

I enjoyed your review of Mrs Robinson's Disgrace and will definitely be looking out for the book.

Jun 8, 2012, 2:44pm Top

#206 Hi Cushla. I'd send you some of our warm weather if we had any! I did get quite a few things done although, as is the usual way, I ended up doing something completely different to what I'd originally intended to do.

#207 HI Megan :-)

#208 *waving*

#209 HI Paul!

#210 Glad to hear you're enjoying it too Liz. I definitely want to read more by Braddon now.

#211 Hi Hannah - thank you for visiting my thread. I've been in the group for a while now and I think it's normal to feel overwhelmed by all the threads - you are not alone!

I really can't believe I've got to June without reading even one book from my masterworks list - The Stars My Destination and Stand on Zanzibar are two I've heard very good things about so they're at the top of that pile.

#212 Hi Mamie - the weekend is here! So glad you're loving Wolf Hall :-)

#213 Hi Dee. I'm glad it's the weekend :-) Hope you enjoy Mrs Robinson's Disgrace when you find a copy.

Jun 8, 2012, 3:00pm Top

After having been hit by all the book bullets from everyone else's lists, here's my list of the 10 best novels published between 2000 and 2009 with the caveat that there are probably many books that deserve to be listed that I haven't read yet! These are books I enjoyed but also books that I think stand out as being more than just enjoyable - restricted to one book per author.

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (2002)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (2009)
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (2000)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2007)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (2001)
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

Honourable mentions to:

The Observations by Jane Harris (2006)
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (2007)
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon (2001 - in Spanish)

7 of the books in my top 10 are authors I am unlikely to have read if it weren't for LT.

Jun 8, 2012, 4:27pm Top

Hi Heather, great lists. I am currently reading Wolf Hall and I am planning on reading Perdido Street Station (my first China Mieville) this year. At least three others are currently on my wishlist, will have to check into some of the others.

I am loving all these lists, and getting lots of both validation and additions to my wishlist.

Jun 8, 2012, 7:58pm Top

I had to delurking to thank you for caving and making your List. It is so much fun to compare books and get ideas for ones I might have missed. I've read nine if your picks, Heather. Good job! I'm certainly not surprised to see Wolf Hall on your list. I'm currently reading Bring Up the Bodies and agree with all the good words I've heard about it from you and others.

Jun 8, 2012, 8:11pm Top

Just speaking. - Hi, Heather! I honestly think that you and I agree about books in general. On the other hand, I've read 7 of your 10 best, and I agree only about The Lacuna and Perdido Street Station. I liked some of the rest, but they weren't the best of the best for me. This listing business has been so much fun! I don't know why one book stands above another that's equally good when judged objectively (whatever that means), but it seems to be so. Good point about LT. I had read only 3 of them before arriving here.

Jun 8, 2012, 8:14pm Top

I've only read 3 on your list, 4 if we include the HMs.

Jun 9, 2012, 6:51am Top

#216 Hi Judy. Validations and additions to my wishlist - yes me too!

#217 Hi Donna - thanks for delurking :-) Wolf Hall was one I didn't need to think twice abou adding.

#218 Hi Peggy. Looking at other people's lists I was conscious of how many of their books I want to read but haven't yet so in a few years' time I think my list could look quite different if some of those books knock some books off my current list. I think all the books I've listed are definitely memorable for me - but best of the best is hard to decide on.

Books that I suspect may have made it on to my list or at least have been up for consideration if I had read them:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville (2000)
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (2008)
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006) - this was on a lot of people's lists
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2006)
The Road Home by Rose Tremain (2007)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (2005)
The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker (2006)
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002)
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (2009)

#219 Hi Roni. I've been surprised how few books I've read off other people's lists - rarely more than 3 or 4 of the ones they listed.

Jun 9, 2012, 7:27am Top

Heather: Great lists. We have some overlap, and the ones from your list I haven't read are on my wishlist. I chose a different Atwood although it was tough to pick one of hers. Small Island keeps popping up -- I have to get to it.

Jun 10, 2012, 7:57am Top

best books published between xxxx and xxxx? I *might* be able to give you a list of my fav reads between those years, but I'd never get to when they were published! (when I got them... maybe :)

Jun 10, 2012, 9:30am Top

I love these lists - of 80's, 90's, 00's reading. I might have to break down and join in..... I could make most of my list from yours, I suspect.

Jun 10, 2012, 9:39am Top

I enjoyed reading your lists and have been inspired to finally create my own. I've had Cloud Atlas and Jonathan Strange on my TBR for ever and really don't know why I haven't read them yet!

Jun 10, 2012, 9:47am Top

Lucy - I would love to see your lists!

Heather - I have not read any of the books on your best of 2000's list, although I am currently reading Wolf Hall. I do have several of them in my TBR pile, so I guess I have some great reads coming up - yeah! I really like your list of books you suspect would be in your top ten if you had read them!!So funny! Again, a lot I haven't read YET there. But I can say that Sea of Poppies and Cutting for Stone are both excellent.

Edited: Jun 10, 2012, 10:42am Top

#215 - Hi Heather - Enjoyed your list. I've only read one (Perdido Street Station), but plan to read several of the others, particularly Cloud Atlas. And thanks for the Connie Willis tip!

Jun 10, 2012, 10:35am Top

#221 Thanks Beth :-)

#222 Well, generally I can't tell you when I read something if it was before LT. I have the original publication date set to show in my catalogue view which helped :-)

#223 Me too Lucy. I think I'm going to do my '90s and '80s lists too in a bit. I love seeing the lists other people have done although they're very bad for my wishlist so I hope you do join in.

#224 I will head over to your thread to check them out Dee.

#225 Hi Mamie. Sea of Poppies has been on so many other people's 2000s lists. I would really like to read it but I've bought so many books recently that I have been having TBR pile guilt so I am really trying to read some more books I own before I buy anymore. But, one day I will buy Sea of Poppies.

#226 You're welcome Kerri. Hope you enjoy the Willis and PSS!

Last books read in May:

Book #85 Remake by Connie Willis - 3.2 stars
Source: Bookmooch
Original publication date: 1995

I didn't enjoy this as much as Lincoln's Dreams although I think that was due to my mood as much as anything else. This is a darker story set in Hollywood in the near future where technology has advanced to the point where it is possible to digitally cut and paste actors and actresses from one film into another. If you want to see Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe star together in A Star is Born then you can. Don't like the ending of Casablanca - then change it. Hollywood doesn't need to make any new films, they don't need new actors or performers ('warmbodies'); they've copyrighted all the old stars and the studios make money by continually redoing and rereleasing old films. But one girl, Alis, has come to Hollywood to fulfil her dream - she wants to dance in the movies.

There are so many references to old films and I suspect the films Connie Willis chose meant something - if only I knew more about old films I might have figured out what. So, again, I was left feeling like there was probably a fair amount going on here that went over my head. The future Hollywood idea was well done and all too believable but a bit too depressing for me at the time. It did make me nostalgic for the old Fred Astaire films though.

Book #86 Rose in Bloom by Louisa M. Alcott - 2 stars
Source: Girlebooks
Original publication date: 1876

Despite enjoying Eight Cousins, the first book Alcott wrote featuring Rose and her cousins, I really struggled with this sequel. Like the other Alcott books I've read it is quite didactic and moralistic in tone. I've enjoyed her other books despite this but for some reason, whether it was my mood or whether she just overdid it in this book, I really couldn't stand the moralising in this book. I was so annoyed by it that I realised I was pulling faces at my kindle whilst reading it on the train to work which must have alarmed my fellow commuters. It's strange, because in many ways I agreed with the points Alcott was trying to get across: she makes it clear that she believes young ladies should be interested in more than pretty clothes, dancing and getting married (hooray!), they should try and do useful things rather than just live a life of decadence and fun (again, general agreement here), if they are rich then they should be encouraged to think about and manage their own financial affairs and engage in some philanthropy.So preachy but with a fair amount of encouraging a woman to take responsibility for her life and what she does. But these points were made so frequently that I really wanted to smack most of the main characters over the head with something for being so sickeningly good.

But this does mean I've finished a series, albeit a two book series.

Some June book reviews to follow but I need to make a couple of scrapbook pages for a book the bridesmaids are putting together for my sister-in-law's hen-do. I don't feel very creative when it comes to card and paper but I've found a fun magazine article which has some old-fashioned housekeeping tips which I'm going to cut out and then try to do something arty around the ages?

Jun 10, 2012, 10:47am Top

Heather - I LOVE reading your reviews! You got me with Remake just because I adore old films - sounds like an interesting premise, so I think I will have to check it out.

Jun 10, 2012, 11:29am Top

I really enjoyed Remake but a lot of it was due to recognizing the old movies--probably very much an American thing. I still have not found a (used) copy of Lincoln's Dream to read, and I've been looking for several years now.

And I do think that Rose in Bloom is even more egregious than Alcott's other books in its didacticism--I hated the way she manipulated feelings around the one cousin--so you aren't alone there. I re-read these two just a few years ago, so my memories are pretty clear.

Edited: Jun 10, 2012, 12:48pm Top

Thoroughly enjoyed your lists, Heather! Thoroughly agree with Donna that it's so much fun to look at others' lists, see what's in common, and add to the list great books we've missed or have been meaning to get to : ). Wolf Hall (followed by Bring Up the Bodies which many are currently raving about) and The Lacuna are two three which I must get to!

Jun 10, 2012, 3:10pm Top

Also like your lists Heather - especially the one which listed which books you expect to make your list when you get round to reading them! Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

Jun 10, 2012, 3:19pm Top

Laughing at you pulling faces at your kindle on the way to work!

I haven't read Louisa May Alcott since loving Little Women as a child.

Jun 10, 2012, 6:17pm Top

But this does mean I've finished a series, albeit a two book series.

Attagirl! :)

There are few things more exasperating than a book that puts you offside while you're agreeing with it!

I strongly recommend a dose of Alcott's Behind A Mask as an antidote.

Jun 10, 2012, 10:23pm Top

Thanks for the comment Heather! I have been perusing your 2012 threads for the first time his evening (no small feat), and I see we have lots of books in common! I also really enjoyed The Secret River and Bring Up the Bodies in the last year.

Your review of March made an impression on me - I have it on my bookshelf, but I disliked Little Women a *lot* when I read it last year (blasphemy, I know!), and I have been suspicious that I would find Mr March to be an annoyingly cloying character. I think it is safe to say I will give it a wide berth for the foreseeable future. I must say that Year of Wonders was a pretty wonderful read.

State of Wonder has been firmly added to the wishlist, yours was the first review I read and it sounds right up my alley.

Last but not least, I really love the idea of including a list of books that you suspect would appear on your best-of had you read them! Gilead and Sea of Poppies would be on mine as well.

Jun 11, 2012, 3:13am Top

#234 Orlaith, you're not the only one who didn't like Little Women - I had to force myself to finish it as well.

Jun 11, 2012, 3:36pm Top

Thanks Rhian, it's good to know I'm not alone! There's strength in numbers...:)

Edited: Jun 11, 2012, 4:05pm Top

#228 Aw, Mamie thank you! Hope you enjoy Remake.

#229 Hi Roni. Whilst I was reading Remake I kept thinking that knowing more about older films would have helped :-) There were so many references to films and I expect some of them were quite clever but I don't really know enough about them. I wonder if it's an American thing? I assumed it was just because I've never really made enough of an effort to track down older films. I went through a Katharine Hepburn phase but I don't thin there were many references to her films in the book. They don't seem to show many of the older on TV over here though, so if they're shown more often in the US then I guess it would be an American thing! Shame...

And you've encouraged me that I may be able to read more Louisa M. Alcott so thank you :-) Big fat spoilers (I was so relieved when one cousin died; they had nothing in common, it would have been a dreadful marriage!)

#230 Thanks Nancy! " it's so much fun to look at others' lists, see what's in common, and add to the list great books we've missed or have been meaning to get to : )" I completely agree too, I love everyone's lists.

#231 Thanks Paul. I know you, for one, have long been singing the praises of Half of a Yellow Sun. It's going to be one of my priorities for Orange July.

#232 Dee, I haven't read Little Women for years either. I am feeling a little worried about whether I would still love it if I reread it now but I feel such a strong affection for the characters that I think I would...

#233 Well, I will take my prescribed medicine like a good girl :-)

#234 Oh gosh, I feel so honoured you waded through all my threads! Thank you :-)

Strangely, I think March might be a lot more enjoyable if you didn't enjoy Little Women. Although Mr March is annoying, with hindsight I think I may have been bothered by that because I wanted to admire his character and I didn't like the way Brooks showed a different side to him in her book. I still think some of her other characterisations in the book were rather weak and too stereotypical but I think I would have thought it was an average/ok book if I hadn't been so in love with Little Women. Enough other people in the group who I think are very well read have good opinions of it so maybe just give it a narrow/medium berth? I'll certainly look out for Year of Wonders. And I hope you enjoy State of Wonder.

#235 & 236 Rhian and Orlaith, although I love the book, I can (for once) completely understand other people not liking it. It was one of the books that made childhood for me; I still have my incredibly battered Puffin edition, illustrated by Shirley Hughes. I very much wanted to be Jo...

Jun 11, 2012, 4:17pm Top

June book #1:

Book #87 Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart - 4.3 stars
Source: Amazon marketplace
Original publication date: 1984

"My surname is Li and my personal name is Kao, and there is a slight flaw in my character."

I've been staring at my computer screen blankly for some time trying to think how on earth to describe this book. So, here goes:

Historical fantasy. Whimsical. Humourous. Ancient China. Fairytales. Myths and legends. First in a trilogy. Delightful.

Very much recommended if you would like to read a fantasy story that does something a bit different and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Jun 11, 2012, 4:31pm Top

I, too, cannot separate the book, Little Women, from my childhood. I read it over and over again as I grew up and was astonished to find out that not everyone had read it...

My copy was my granny's: she won it as a school prize for cookery (junior division) in 1926, when she was 12.

Jun 11, 2012, 5:15pm Top

Bridge of Birds sounds like one for the list - Heather, you got me again!

Jun 11, 2012, 5:51pm Top

Another Jo here. I haven't outgrown my love for *LW*, but I've been a bit afraid to try the others. If I see a copy of *Bridge/Birds*, I expect I'll get it.......Thanks, Heather.

Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 7:09am Top

#239 & 241 Glad to see some more LW lovers (LW haters do not be afraid to be post).

Mamie & Peggy, I hope you enjoy Bridge of Birds.

I was going to try and write a review of The Trail of the Serpent but I haven't slept very well for the last couple of nights so instead I'm going to do some more lists!

My favourite novels published in the 1990s (1990-1999). These are books I enjoyed but also books that I think stand out as being more than just enjoyable - restricted to one book per author.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (1993)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (1997)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (1999)
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kaye (1995)
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1996)
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett (1996)
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (1996)
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)

And the 1980s:

A Taste for Death by P. D. James (1986)
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (1987)
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (1988)
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (1988)
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (1985)
Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart (1984)
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (1988)
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (1983)

I think of the three decades I've listed so far, the 90s list is the weakest and is probably most likely to change as I read more books. Two authors, Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver had books in all three decades.

Jun 12, 2012, 6:43am Top

242: I loved The Subtle Knife too, and Harry Potter of course but Alias Grace is the only one I actually put on my nineties list. I think I'll have to follow Mamie and create a Young Adult list!

I found the eighties list more difficult than the nineties and haven't yet posted it on my own thread because I'm still not sure. The Remains of the Day has a definite place on it though and I feel as if The Handmaid's Tale should be on it except (ahem) I haven't actually read it!

Edited: Jun 12, 2012, 5:17pm Top

Lots of books on your list would surely make it onto mine Heather. I just read Norwegian Wood and loved it. The Player of Games is probably my favourite Banks, although a SF novel rather opens the floodgates to lots of genre stuff, and are we meant to be keeping it pure contemporary literature? I'm always trying to get hold of a copy of A Handmaid's Tale, (and have Oryx and Crake in the tbr pile), and The Poisonwood Bibel is another on the wishlist. I'm a huge fane of A Suitable Boy too. Several others on your lists though, I've never even heard of, so I'll get investigating, as I'm getting the feeling we have quite similar tastes!

Jun 12, 2012, 2:08pm Top

Great lists, Heather! Interesting you have The Subtle Knife listed. That was by far my favorite in that series, but I've never known anyone else who thought so. The traveling by the knife really got me.

I liked lots of your others. I keep thinking A Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic. It's like 1984 or Animal Farm as far as I'm concerned.

Jun 12, 2012, 3:19pm Top

I had to give up getting all my favorites under 10 - so I'm going to have 'novels' and f/sf, it just wasn't possible. Risk of nervous breakdown otherwise.....

Jun 13, 2012, 7:23pm Top

Hi, Heather!

Ooooo...lists...love them. Of your 2000's, I've read five and would probably agree with your assessment as to their belonging on the top, um well, top twenty anyway. One of my all-time favorites was The Shadow of the Wind; it must have been the perfect pairing of book and reader when I read it. I'm a firm believer in the theory that every reader reads a different book. What do you think?

Jun 13, 2012, 7:33pm Top

Ohhh, nice lists, Heather! I have only read two of those -YIKES! Looks like I have been missing a lot of good books. I could plan an entire year of reading just from everyone's lists!!

Jun 13, 2012, 9:15pm Top

Hi Heather, I was very much behind on your thread and took my sweet time catching up with you, which was most enjoyable. Mrs Robinson's Disgrace sounds like something I might like quite a lot. I will put in a purchase request for it at the library and hope for the best, otherwise might be forced to buy it eventually.
I loved your lists of favourites through the decades. Looking at everyone's lists lately, the thing that struck me the most is how many awesome books I have on my shelves waiting for me to pick them up! I think I'll try my hand at putting together my own lists too, but may have to make one of the books I can't wait to read.

#245 Joe, I loved The Subtle Knife as well and was also very taken with the knife travel—so original! But I adored The Golden Compass too, so can't say it's my favourite for that reason. Let's say they're BOTH my favourites! Also agree with you that The Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic. I've read it a couple of times over the years, and can't wait to read it again, this time from my gorgeous illustrated Folio Society edition that Heather helped me find!

Jun 14, 2012, 9:59am Top

Huge overlap in the 80's, less in the 90's but that was the slowest reading decade of my adult life...... the busiest, teaching, writing and baby as well as a few crises in the fam. I even gave up brushing my hair for awhile, but it didn't really give me enough extra time to churn through a novel. ha ha.

Jun 14, 2012, 10:19am Top

Great lists, Heather! I think every 80s list I've seen has The Remains of the Day on it. For whatever reasons, it's one I've never gotten to. I think that MUST change!

Jun 14, 2012, 11:46am Top

I've avoided the movie precisely because I didn't read the book, have to read the book first, always, whenever possible.

Jun 15, 2012, 9:07pm Top

ominogue -- I think you'd find Mr. March in March to be quite a bit different from Alcott. Indeed, I probably would have liked it more if he'd reminded me more of the story. It has some fun historical stuff in there too with Emerson and Thoreau. Anyway, if you're going to skip it, fine. But I'd hate for you to do it because of any similarities to Little Women. It's just not there, imho :)

Heather, maybe I can do a list if LT gives me dates LOL

Jun 15, 2012, 11:47pm Top

From your 1990's and 1980's list I have read one book each. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Remains of the Day, the second one being one of my absolute favourites. From the new Millennium list, I haven't read anything. Goes to show how different our tastes are and yet I love visiting your thread. Wonderful how LT brings so many different kinds of readers together. :-)

Jun 16, 2012, 9:53pm Top

Hi Heather. I hope to be able to visit more often now that the semester is over and things are gradually calming down. I love your lists!

Jun 17, 2012, 5:58am Top

#243 Hi Dee. I think my nineties list is the list most likely to change as I read more. I could easily see the HP book and McCall Smith book being replaced (although I enjoyed them a lot).

#244 Hi Hannah. I didn't really consider excluding genre fiction from my lists. Some people have split their lists but I don't think most people have. I'd probably find it tough to pick 10 books if I excluded genre fiction. No Wolf Hall (historical fiction), no Margaret Atwood (science fiction and historical fiction), no Terry Pratchett etc. I guess I really don't read that much contemporary fiction that isn't also historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy or crime fiction.

#245 Thanks Joe. It's been so long since I read His Dark Materials trilogy that I would struggle to say why I thought the second book was the best, but that's what I remember. The first book was good but it felt the second stepped up a notch.

#246 Very wise Lucy!

#247 "I'm a firm believer in the theory that every reader reads a different book." I think that's a fair comment Gail. One of the things I have found about LT though is that it's helped me broaden my reaction to a book (if that makes sense). I'm also finding that rereading a book is sometimes like reading a different book again (probably because it's a different me reading it). Sometimes I get so much more out of a book on a reread and sometimes (less often) I wonder what on earth I saw the first time around!

#248 "I could plan an entire year of reading just from everyone's lists!!" At least! :-)

#249 "the thing that struck me the most is how many awesome books I have on my shelves waiting for me to pick them up!" Me too - which is encouraging, shows how much my book purchases have been influenced by this group and also shows perhaps, how out of control my to read pile is.

#250 - 252 I can't remember whether I've seen the film of The Remains of the Day or whether I've just seen clips from it. (Lucy, love the image of you not brushing your hair so you can squeeze more reading in!)

#253 :-)

#254 Porua, I'd bet we would have some overlap if we did some lists from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

#255 I Hope things calm down for you Linda. Thanks for stopping by.

Right, girding my loins to setup a new thread...

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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