CBL's 2020 Literary Adventures, Part 1
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I'm Carrie, an academic librarian in Seymour, Tennessee. My 8-year-old Shih Tzu, Adrian, isn't terribly interested in what I read, but he likes to keep me company while I read. If he's not on my lap, he's snuggled in the recliner beside me. He's much more photogenic than I am, and I'll post pictures here from time to time.
My reading tastes are fairly eclectic. Mystery is my favorite genre, and I have a special fondness for historical mysteries. I also read literary fiction, nonfiction (history, biography of historical figures, literary travel, family history/genealogy are particular favorites), and occasionally books for middle grade readers/tweens.
It's hard to believe this is my tenth year in this group! I haven't been as active on the threads as I would have liked in the past couple of years. Since I moved into a new condo, I have a longer commute to work and I spend more time outdoors with Adrian. There are lots of dogs in my neighborhood, and Adrian and I often go on walks with our friends, both human and 4-legged.
To kick things off, here is a recent photo of Adrian and his friend, Stella, at a Humane Society event.
Best of 2020
Books read in January
1. Coral Reef Views by Vicki Delany (4) - completed 1/1/20
2. Bolt by Dick Francis (4) - completed 1/2/20
3. Blood from a Stone by Donna Leon (3.5) - completed 1/5/20
4. Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift (4) - completed 1/11/
5. Death Walks in Eastrepps by Francis Beeding (3) - completed 1/19/20
6. The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope (3) - completed 1/25/20
I usually include a photo "blast from the past" in my threads. This photo is from the recent past. Just before Christmas, in fact! I was blessed with the opportunity to spend Christmas in Berlin with my brother and SIL, while my brother is on a temporary work assignment there. My SIL took this pic of my brother and me in one of the Christmas markets near Alexanderplatz. The church behind us is Marienkirche.
75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know by Terry Glaspey
Bolt by Dick Francis
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth W. Osbeck
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!
End of Year Meme
Describe yourself: A Useful Woman
Describe how you feel: Something Rotten
Describe where you currently live: Campusland
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Berlin
Your favorite form of transportation: Tramp for the Lord
Your best friend is: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
You and your friends are: Friends in High Places
What’s the weather like: Big Sky
You fear: Untimely Death
What is the best advice you have to give: Cheaper by the Dozen
Thought for the day: They Do It with Mirrors
How you would like to die: To Die but Once
Your soul’s present condition: The Call to Holiness
Your favorite time of day is: The Remains of the Day
What is life for you: Pieces of Happiness
Your favorite food: Vegetables
1. Coral Reef Views by Vicki Delany
Paramedic Ashley Grant’s parents have come from Canada to visit her in her new Caribbean island home. Retirement doesn’t seem to suit Ashley’s father, who seems at a loss without work to keep him busy. He perks up when he befriends a fellow tourist, only to be disappointed when the man fails to keep an appointment they made. When the man still hasn’t made an appearance a day or two later, Ashley’s father is convinced that something is wrong. His fear is confirmed when the man’s body washes up on the beach. It could have been an accidental drowning, but Ashley’s father isn’t so sure. He enlists Ashley’s aid to investigate the circumstances surrounding the man’s death.
The Ashley Grant mysteries are part of Orca’s Rapid Reads series, with a primary audience of ESL students and low literacy adults. They’re something between a short story and a novella. With several series books to her credit now, Delany seems to have learned how to develop a credible plot with multiple suspects at a pace that suits both the mystery genre and the goal for the Rapid Reads series. The setting will appeal to readers who enjoy mysteries in exotic locations.
This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.
Hi Carrie! Happy New Year, and congratulations on the first finish I've seen so far :-)
Dropping a star here! I'll try to do the real catch-up after I get home tomorrow or on Friday!
2. Bolt by Dick Francis
Although jockey Kit Fielding rides for a number of owners, Princess Casilia is clearly his favorite. When a menacing stranger threatens the princess and her invalid husband, Kit steps in to help. He’ll have to be on high alert to prevent injury to the princess’s loved ones while he comes up with a plan to put and end to the threat once and for all. It seems there is nothing that the evil man won’t do to terrorize the princess and her family, even to the point of killing her beloved racehorses (which are also very much loved by their rider, Kit). Kit also has to mind his P’s and Q’s around steward Maynard Allardeck, who can’t let go of the ancient blood feud between the Fieldings and the Allardecks. Meanwhile, Kit fears that he is losing the affection of his fiancee, the princess’s niece by marriage, Danielle, to a sophisticated rival, who is also the princess’s nephew.
This is a rare sequel in Dick Francis’s body of work. It reads as the page-turner I’ve come to expect from Francis. Although it was lovely to visit Kit’s world one more time, this book wasn’t quite as satisfactory as its predecessor. The villain’s cartoonish speech and actions stretches the bounds of credibility. I like the fact that Kit suffers less from injuries and physical violence than many of Francis’s heroes.
Stopping by with Happy New Year greetings and best wishes for 2020! Adrian may be photogenic but that picture of you and your brother is equally lovely!
I saw this on thornton37814's thread and it looked like fun!
Did you have guests during the holidays, Answer the questions with titles of books you read in 2019
What would you call the event? Pieces of Happiness
How did they find their way? Reflex
How did they know they'd arrived? A Useful Woman
Any special activities? Clue
Did your guests stay over? Hotel du Lac
Were there servants to help? The Three Clerks
Was there turn down service? The Chosen
How were the guests greeted? The Dog Who Lost His Bark
Was dinner held for late comers? Forfeit
And dinner was? Vegetables
Afterward? Coffee, Tea, or Murder?
Congrats on your second book of the year! Happy New Year, if I haven't already said it, Carrie.
3. Blood from a Stone by Donna Leon
In the days leading up to Christmas, an African street vendor is murdered in a crowded street in front of multiple witnesses. It looks like a professional hit job to Commissario Brunetti, but why would a street vendor be a target for this type of murder? Might it have something to do with the knock-off products they’re selling? Or is the murder connected to the victim’s country of origin? Brunetti is up against a closed world of immigrants who operate under the radar. Establishing the victim’s identity won’t be easy, let alone finding the motive for the murder.
I found this series installment less satisfactory than most of the other books in the series. I’ve come to accept that the murderers will elude justice in this series, and that Brunetti (and the readers) have to be satisfied with the knowledge of the killer’s identity. However, this book ended with more loose ends than usual.
I’ve got your thread starred, but looking back, I don’t seem to have said anything!
So, I’d like to wish you (and Adrian) a happy new year!
Around the end of October/first of November, Adrian developed anxiety when he's crated. His vets and I are not sure why. Maybe something happened that scared him while I was gone one day, or maybe he picked up on my stress. (Our HOA was turned over to the homeowners on October 30, so October and November were filled with uncertainty, which is stressful.) We've tried different medications, and this week it's looking like he's finally turning a corner. The last couple of days the bedding in his crate hasn't been quite as wet from drool and panting, and I arrived home from work this afternoon to a dry crate!
>41 cbl_tn: Poor little guy! I'm glad you and your vet have found something that works. I love my vet - it make such a difference to have someone with whom you work well.
>41 cbl_tn: To find a way to reduce anxiety in dogs isn't easy, Carrie, I am glad to read you have found something to help Adrian.
4. Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
On an unseasonably warm Mothering Sunday in March of 1924, maid Jane Fairchild secretly meets her lover, Paul, the only surviving son and heir of the neighboring estate owner. This will be their last tryst, as Paul is to marry Emma, the daughter of another neighboring landowner, in two weeks’ time. Jane is intensely aware that the pleasure of her relationship with Paul cannot last, just as the day’s beauty cannot last. She reflects on her past, the many directions today might have taken, and, from her old age, the course of her life and the secrets she still carries.
This is a deeply introspective novel that explores themes of class, motherless children, childless mothers, loss, memory, perception, truth and fiction. It has the same feel as Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, and will appeal to the same readers.
>47 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I have to confess I chose it because it was the shortest of the options at my local library. I am not sorry. :-)
>48 cbl_tn: Yes the page count was in its favour when I chose it too!
>50 cbl_tn: I keep remembering books I was thinking of reading this month. There is no way I'll get to them all!
>51 thornton37814: >52 Dejah_Thoris: I keep doing it despite my best intentions.
>53 alcottacre: Hi Stasia! Either Adrian has improved a bit, or I've just adapted to the new behavior. I did buy new water resistant bedding in multiples to switch out when he soaks one set, so at least cleanup is easier now.
Hi Carrie - I was just thinking about Donna Leon and wondering what the next book for me is. She is a good go-to for me when I don't know what to read.
I also loved Mothering Sunday; it was my first novel by Swift, but it won't be my last.
Have a lovely weekend.
>55 BLBera: Hi Beth! I enjoy the Donna Leon books, even though her murderers are rarely brought to justice.
It has been a lovely weekend. I was able to share meals and spend time with several friends over the course of the weekend. Adrian and I both enjoyed that! Of course, it meant less time for reading.
5. Death Walks in Eastrepps by Francis Beeding
A series of murders disrupts the tourist season in the East Anglian town of Eastrepps. The local authorities look into the first murder, but Scotland Yard’s Inspector Wilkins is called on to lead the investigation after a second murder. The murders continue despite police patrols. What evil is stalking the town?
Even though the author of this Golden Age mystery doesn’t play fair with readers, but withholds clues and other vital information, I had no trouble identifying the killer midway through the book. I wouldn’t have minded so much if the investigation had proceeded in a satisfactory way. However,
Hi Carrie, I lost your thread in the burgeoning January threads. It looks like your reading has started out well for the year.
To be fair I think it's an intentional rumination upon
>58 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! Yes, it has. I'd like to have a little more time for reading, but otherwise I can't complain!
>59 alcottacre: Thanks! I am a little nervous about the next week or so. Adrian's friend Stella will be staying with us for a week starting tomorrow night. Adrian is not typically a barker, but Stella is and she is successful at getting him to chime in. I'm hoping that he won't lose the progress he's made while she's with us.
>60 lyzard: I hadn't thought of it in that light, but even so, I think Christie's Witness for the Prosecution and Mrs. McGinty's Dead do that more satisfactorily.
Yes, but this was some twenty years earlier.
I always think it's important to remember that Sherlock Holmes and whole "brilliant non-professional detective" thing was born out of the English public's dissatisfaction with the conduct of the police and the courts, particularly a series of convictions and executions on very flimsy evidence during the second half of the 19th century. The fantasy of the brilliant amateur who could intervene and prevent a miscarriage of justice was very comforting, but it was just a fantasy.
Possibly, but I think the dramatic possibilities of the courtroom scene were probably the main inspiration.
>64 lyzard: I don't say this about many books, but I think I would have enjoyed it more as a movie. Interestingly, Hitchcock's Spellbound is based on one of Beeding's other books, and I love that movie.
>66 lyzard: Yes, there is information about both writers in the introductory material in my copy. It's hard to know how to talk about two authors with one pseudonym. Do you go along with the pretence that they're one person or not?
Well, the problem is that at least one of them, perhaps both, also wrote with other people under different pseudonyms, as well as in their own right.
In other words it's way too complicated so I just think of them as one person. :D
>68 lyzard: It's too late in the evening for me to take that in. It's making my head spin!
6. The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope
Do you ever wonder what ever happened to the person identified as “most likely to succeed” in your high school yearbook? George Bertram would have received that designation. His cousin, Arthur Wilkinson, always finished a close second to George, to Arthur’s great sorrow. However, George’s innate talent did not lead to happiness.
Trollope seems to have intended The Bertrams to be a character study of George and Arthur, of George’s irresponsible father, Sir Lionel Bertram, and his miserly uncle, George Bertram, Sr.; of proud Caroline Waddington and constant Adela Gauntlet. Sometimes the plot seems forced to fit Trollope’s requirements for character development. Readers may get an ending that they like, but may wish that Trollope had arrived at it in a different manner.
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